Daily columnist Architect Tips has a look ahead to the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival, selecting two tips for this Grade 1 Hurdle.
Triumph Hurdle - Winner
Triumph Hurdle 2022 Tips: Ante-Post Preview
The Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle kicks off the fourth and final day of the Cheltenham Festival and will see the best four-year-old juvenile hurdlers go to war in the hope that a potential superstar can emerge from the field and use this prestigious prize as a stepping stone towards a tilt at next year’s Champion Hurdle.
The ante-post betting, at the time of writing, is headed by the Gordon Elliott-trained Fil Dor - who made it three-from-three when winning the Grade Two Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle very easily – staying on really strongly to win by seven-lengths under a confident ride by Davy Russell. His jumping has been quite electric in all three victories to date and he seems ground-versatile due winning each of them on soft-to-heavy, good and soft ground. He has won all of his starts in excellent style, suggesting that he is well up to being competitive in this higher grade but the form of his latest victory has already taken a few knocks with the third Britzka only finishing fourth next time in a weak-enough contest. He remains open to improvement and has the potential to win this but, at 3/1, he makes little appeal from a betting perspective in a race historically as competitive as this.
The second-favourite, currently a 9/1 chance, is Dan Skelton’s Warwick winner In This World, who looked a smart prospect when winning on hurdles debut by six-lengths. I’m not sure that sort of form would be good enough to even reach the frame in this, though, so major improvement would be required. That said, the strong market support he received beforehand and the way he moved menacingly through the field before quickening up in good style indicated that he’s more than useful. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes next as that should reveal a lot more but he looks a shade underpriced here, especially when a few other candidates who have achieved more this term, are priced up higher and appeal more.
Willie Mullins, who saddled the winner of this two years ago - Burning Victory, has the current third-favourite Icare Allen, who impressed on hurdles debut at Leopardstown when he strode to a three-length comfortable success. A trip to the Dublin Racing Festival is the likely next target and, with improvement on the cards, he could be a dark horse in the Triumph Hurdle representing the colours of JP McManus, who’s won this event twice in the past. It’s been almost eleven years since the champion trainer Paul Nicholls claimed this event with the high-class Zarkandar but Iceo could turn out to be one of the best juveniles he’s had for a long time. This gelding by Coastal Path looked a powerful unit when sauntering to a seventeen-length success at Kempton on hurdle/stable debut and could be an above-average prospect, though the form hasn’t worked out with the second and fourth running poorly since.
Pied Piper was smart on the flat and marginally got the better of VAUBAN (best price 14-1) when the pair clashed on hurdles debut but it was the latter who impressed me most and looks an attractive proposition at this early stage representing Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci. He was beaten half-a-length by the former on hurdles debut but was hampered twice and made a costly mistake at the last when mounting a challenge but, considering this, he did extremely well to get as close as he did under the circumstances. The fact that he was sent off odds-on favourite suggested he’s held in high regard and that experience should have done him the world of good. It’s interesting that Rich Ricci has expressed that he’s the most exciting horse he’s purchased since Saldier and, being from a high-quality family, there’s every possibility he’ll develop into a leading contender for the Triumph Hurdle this term.
Gary Moore’s Porticello is the shortest-price of the British representatives, currently 12/1, who produced a fantastic performance in the Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow. He has won two of his three starts and is a player but, at nearly twice the price, it’s the Milton Harris-trained KNIGHT SALUTE (best price 14-1) who brings undoubtedly the best form to the table and gets the verdict. He would no doubt be single-figures, odds-wise, if he were trained by the likes of Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls and this ex-flat performer has thrived since going hurdling, winning at Sedgefield and Kempton before taking the step up in class in his stride over course and distance in November in the Grade 2 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial.
His latest victory was probably the best of them all though, as he was carrying a penalty in the Grade 2 bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle but won with plenty to spare to make it four on the spin. Having travelled strongly into contention, Paddy Brennan produced him to lead with a flying leap at the last hurdle before showing his trademark turn of foot on the run-in to claim the spoils by three-quarters of a length. On that basis, I’m not quite sure why he’s priced up as short as he is in comparison to a few others who have achieved a lot less. The runner-up at Doncaster - Porticello, subsequently advertised the strength of the form by winning a Grade One and I have doubt that Milton Harris’ high-class juvenile has a better chance of running a big race, at the very least, than his odds suggest.