Cheltenham Festival 2015 – Triumph Hurdle Preview

Run over 2 miles on the new course, the Triumph Hurdle is traditionally won by a future stayer with the exception of Katchit and the ill-fated Our Conor who turned out to be speed horses and therefore Champion Hurdle material. The betting for this year’s race has Nicky Henderson’s unbeaten Peace and Co in the colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede as the red hot ante-post favourite with the same owners Bristol De Mai trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies the second favourite. The owners seem to have a real stranglehold over this race as they’re also responsible for Vercingetorix, who won today in Meydan, and Top Notch further down the betting list. . Let’s take a look at the main contenders: Peace and Co – Nicky Henderson This flashy looking son of Falco has made a big impression on his UK debut when bolting up with the Summit Junior hurdle at Doncaster by 19 lengths. Although he was very keen in the race, Daryl Jacob bided his time and the horse readily drew clear of Starchitect. On his next start he was long odds-on favourite for the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham. Everything that could go wrong did, as he very extremely keen and the race was run at a crawl, but despite these factors he overcame them to score by a comfortable 3 lengths from reliable yardstick Karezak. Peace and Co looks the one to beat. Bristol De Mai – Nigel Twiston-Davies Having already won in France on very soft going when in the care of top French handler Guillaume Macaire this athletic grey was sent to the shrewd Naunton trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies for the Finale Juvenile hurdle at Chepstow. Ridden by retained rider Daryl Jacob, the grey cruised through the race that was run on heavy going and slammed Karezak by 6 lengths going away. The key to this horse is the going as he seems to want some cut in the ground. Kalkir – Willie Mullins This French import was already being heavily backed for the race before he made his Irish debut in a grade 3 at Fairyhouse. That race showed why he was fancied for the Triumph Hurdle as he easily disposed of albeit a lesser calibre of opponent when beating Dai Bando by 8 lengths. Starting at 4/7 on his next start at Leopardstown, the wheels came off as he was struggling some way out before plugging on to be beaten 2 lengths by the unraced Fiscal Focus which has to go down as disappointing. The one thing in his favour is that he looks a stayer and the stiff finish should suit him at Cheltenham. Hargam – Nicky Henderson Flat bred and showed smart form on the Flat in France including a 2nd in a listed race which was not too dissimilar to the stable/connections of former high class hurdler Binocular. He made his debut at Cheltenham and travelled like the winner until fitness found him out against the durable Golden Doyen. Back at the same venue a month later but on softer ground, he again travelled with zest but found it hard work on the ground to narrowly beat Karezak, who may have won if jumping the last more fluently. Surely the key to this horse is better ground and he should find that in the Triumph Hurdle. Karezak – Alan King A very likeable horse who has been in against the best all season gaining one victory on his debut. His form ties him in with best juveniles this season, though his jumping has let him down on occasion but he keeps running his race and that experience will definitely help him in a rough race like the Triumph. Connections might run him in the Supreme as he would be getting weight, but he is a great each way bet if running in the Triumph. Bristol De Mai Would need soft conditions which are unlikely to turn up in the race. Verdict: Despite lacking the experience of others in the race Peace and Co has the most natural speed and ability, but the Triumph is usually run at a great tempo and although he will still be travelling on the bridle coming down the hill, will his natural exuberance get the better of him against a stouter stayer? Hargam is a similar type to his stable mate and may lack the experience for a battle. If this is the case then I feel that KALKIR is the one best suited to take advantage presuming he doesn’t get too far back in the field. I can see him staying on better than anything up the hill and the better ground may be to his liking. Last time on softer ground he came under pressure earlier which didn’t happen on debut when the ground was good to soft. For our exclusive Community Members only preview of the RSA Chase, JOIN US for just £6 per month. You’ll also get £10 off admission to our Cheltenham Festival Preview Evening in Cheltenham on Friday 6 March, tips every day and much more – learn more about Free and Community Membership.