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JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)
Triumph Hurdle Betting Tips
The Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle is for Juvenile (four-year-old) hurdlers only, over a distance of two miles one furlong. Held on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival (Friday 17th March), it has been an excellent race for leading trainer Nicky Henderson, with six lifetime wins.
Our Cheltenham tip for the 2017 Triumph Hurdle is the Philip Hobbs trained Defi Du Seuil, winner of all of his five starts over hurdles so far. Purchased by JP McManus following a three year old bumper win in France, he has won two Grade 2 and a Grade 1 in the UK, including three successes at Cheltenham and two over course and distance. He has generally jumped extremely well, with just two small blemishes at Chepstow – where he won by 13 lengths regardless – and, officially rated 155, he has four pounds in hand with the rest of the field.
Interestingly, the second favourite is also owned by JP McManus – the Nicky Henderson trained Charli Parcs – who fell when making his challenge last time out at Kempton. Unlike our tip, he has no prior Cheltenham experience, and has had only three career runs, compared to seven for Defi Du Seuil. With proven Cheltenham experience, he’s also won on both Good and Good to Soft, so conditions will be sure to suit. With the best form in the field already in the book, and more sure to come, he looks excellent value despite the large field.
The Triumph Hurdle betting trends to consider are as follows:
- 9 of the last 10 winners placed on their last start before the Triumph Hurdle; 6 of them won
- All 10 of the last 10 winners had a run in January or February.
- 7 of the last 10 winners were 6/1 or shorter – the other two were 10/1 and 33/1.
- 7 of the last 10 winners were Flat horses before going over Hurdles.
- Of those, 6 had Official Ratings, all 83 or higher
- All 7 ex-Flat horses had run over 1 mile 2 furlongs or further.
- 7 of the last 10 winners had won or placed in a Grade 1 or Grade 2 Hurdles race (5 winners, 2 seconds)
- 7 of the last 10 winners had 2 to 4 Hurdle runs, with two of the other 3 having 6 and just one winner having less than 2 Hurdle runs (Zarkander, ex-Flat horse)
- 6 of the previous 10 winners were Irish bred, with 3 others French bred.
Paul Nicholls has won this race twice in the last ten years (Zarkander in 2011 and Celestial Halo in 2008) but he is no match for leading all time trainer Nicky Henderson. Zaynar (2009) and Soldatino (2010) were followed up last year by Peace And Co (2015) for his sixth winner, the first being way back in 1985. Barry Geraghty is the all time leading jockey, riding four winners (three for Nicky Henderson and one for Joseph O’Brien) in the last ten years as well as Jonjo O’Neill’s Spectroscope back in 2003.
Trends Analysis: The Flat horse trend used to be one to stick to given their extra experience, but with the rise of French bred horses who compete over jumps from three years old, that could go out the window. The market has often got it right in recent years, with only two double figure winners, but it still looks to be worth keeping a close eye on horses who have already shown their class on the Flat.
Already a multiple graded winner, this seems like the natural step for Defi Du Seuil as he cements himself as a very smart hurdler for the future. Unbeaten over hurdles in five starts for Philip Hobbs, he holds three victories at Cheltenham and won a Grade 1 at Chepstow on his penultimate start in December, bounding clear for a thirteen length success in the Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle. He finished his preparation when winning over C&D in January and looks the all around package for this race, with a good mix of speed and stamina in the locker. He handles the hill well and with the Hobbs’ yard in such good form, improvement is likely to be forthcoming. Richard Johnson takes the ride so he’ll be given the best possible chance of victory and he looks the likeliest winner of this year’s renewal.
Joining Nicky Henderson after a cosy victory in an Enghien conditions race, Charli Parcs confirmed his promise when brushing aside his opposition at Kempton on British debut, never coming off the bridle and jumping with precision and finesse. He is potentially a very promising horse, with Henderson already showing admiration for his new recruit: “I love this horse, J P has a stack of juveniles so I can’t be sure where we’ll go. But he’s got a lot to learn and will want a couple more runs ahead of the Triumph. He’s got plenty of speed, and Musselburgh is a place I wouldn’t rule out“. Unfortunately on his latest run at Kempton he came down in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle, under pressure but starting to close when falling two out. It can be widely debated as to whether he was coming back to win the race, nevertheless it did knock him back in the market, with confidence behind him dwindling. At this stage J P McManus may have a better option in Defi Du Seuil on the face of it, but he isn’t one to discount quickly.
Showing promise on all of his runs to date for Gordon Elliott, the cheekpieces worked well for Mega Fortune when landing the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown in February, his first Grade 1 success at the expense of Bapaume. He made most that day and, despite being keen early, he showed a brilliant attitude when headed by the aforementioned rival to get back in front and pull clear again. Remaining with huge amounts of potential at the age of four, he should appreciate Cheltenham and the stamina test it will offer. Elliott has won the Triumph once (with Tiger Roll in 2014) and he looks to have a leading chance this year, as any amount of improvement from this Solider Of Fortune gelding will have him firmly in the picture.
A wide margin winner on his penultimate start at Ludlow, Master Blueyes stamped his claims for the contest when running out an impressive winner of the Adinos Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton in February. Held up before making smooth headway to lead after the second last, he bounded clear after the final fence in the style of a very smart young horse. Alan King has a number of useful looking juveniles under his care currently, but none more so than this four-year-old by Mastercraftsman for The Barbury Lions who looks an extremely big threat if improving further before this race.
Gordon Elliott’s filly Dinaria Des Obeaux made a mockery of her opposition on hurdling debut, travelling powerfully throughout and quickening clear with the minimum of fuss. Although it is easy to say that the form does not amount to much, it is also hard to not be impressed by how brilliant her victory was. Elliott’s assistant trainer, Olly Murphy, was pleasantly surprised by the performance, shedding light on how she is at home also: “She goes about her business without pulling up trees at home and that surprised us“. On her latest start she landed a Grade 3 in the Stewards room, to the surprise of many. She ran a brilliant race though and was only beaten by a nose; and with a clear run she is likely to have won much more comfortably than she did. She still remains with potential and looks a very creditable threat for Gordon Elliott, so she will need softer ground to show her best.
Leading trainer Nicky Henderson and leading jockey Barry Geraghty joined forces back in 2010 as Soldatino took the crown.
The grey was held up, almost dead last, in the opening stages, his jockey wearing the all green colours of Simon Munir. He remained at the rear of the field until making his way through the pack, just prior to the third from home. At this point, however, the front-running Barizan was already ten lengths clear for Evan Williams and looked good to make all.
Soldatino was one of seven realistic chances ridden in pursuit and took second following the penultimate hurdle to emerge as the horse most likely to upset the leader’s plan. The giant lead was reduced to just two lengths following the last and the gap was quickly closed by Soldatino as the caution-to-the-wind style of the front-runner saw him hobble over the line in second with no more left to give.
It was the turn of Zarkandar to take the Triumph Hurdle in 2011 for Paul Nicholls and Daryl Jacob. Jacob positioned his mount in mid-division in the opening stages, held up until moving into a more prominent position by exploiting a gap out wide over the second last. A little more manoeuvring by Jacob saw Zarkandar one of four in a line chasing the leader Sailors Warn entering the final furlong. The eventual winner made a move to nearer the running rail, which helped him to leap over the last in front. He would put just over two lengths between himself and Dermot Weld’s filly Unaccompanied.
Countrywide Flame was a 33/1 shot when lining up for this race back in 2012, but saw off a field of 19 others to earn the plaudits for John Quinn and Dougie Costello.
The long shot was always near the head of proceedings, one of a handful of handily placed horses tracking leaders West Brit, Sadler’s Risk and Darroun. The pack took the third last almost two-by-two before the eventual winner was ridden going downhill as horse and jockey vied for racing room.
A line of five better placed contenders led Countrywide Flame home, though none picked up as much speed in the straight, with the horse responding magnificently to Costello’s urgings. He smashed his way through the final hurdle, though he had momentum to thank for emerging in front three lengths clear of a bunch finish for the minor places.
In 2013, Dessie Hughes saddled Our Conor to victory, a year prior to the horse’s fatal fall at the Festival in the Champion Hurdle. The white blaze of Our Conor was visible throughout the race, leading the field in pursuit of the pace-setting Diakali. In the colours of Barry Connell, Bryan Cooper sent Our Conor on just prior to the second from home, the horse clipping at the heels of the front-running grey. He took the lead with minimal encouragement and continued to put clear water between himself and Far West, 15 lengths behind in second.
In 2014, it was the turn of Gigginstown’s Tiger Roll trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by Davy Russell. Their nosebanded entry settled on the outside of the pack in mid-field in the early exchanges before the pace of the race saw the field reconfigure, with the eventual winner taking up a share of fifth place with favourite Calipto behind a wall of four.
Downhill, Plinth receded following a slow jump of the penultimate obstacle, leaving the Calipto/ Tiger Roll pair in third and fourth respectively. Daryl Jacob lost an iron on the favourite which left Tiger Roll to battle things out with Kentucky Hyden and Guitar Pete, taking the last in front and using the rail to keep straight and see off the floundering second Kentucky Hyden by over three lengths.
2015 saw Peace And Co sent off 2/1 favourite for Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson after two excellent Grade 2 wins in the UK following on from his three year old Hurdle win in France. He had to fight all the way to the line to beat off another Nicky Henderson horse in Top Notch, but he battled hard and never really looked like being passed in the last 100 yards under a confident ride.
In 2016, the J P McManus owned and Joseph O’Brien trained Ivanovich Gorbatov won with Barry Geraghty in the saddle. In hindsight, the form turned out to be better than first imagined as Apple’s Jade chased him home in second. The good ground was key on the day, a horse that hates cut so everything dropped right for him. It was top work from young Joseph to train a Cheltenham festival winner so early on in his training career.
There are 55 entries at the initial stage. The potential Triumph Hurdle runners are:
- Admiral Barratry
- Bold Emperor
- Charli Parcs
- Cliffs Of Dover
- Coeur De Lion
- Dakota Moirette
- Dandy Mag
- Defi Du Seuil
- Dica De Thaix
- Dino Velvet
- Divin Bere
- Domperignon Du Lys
- Duca De Thaix
- Ex Patriot
- Final Choice
- Flying Tiger
- Forth Bridge
- I See You Well
- King Julien
- Lexington Law
- Long Call
- Master Blueyes
- Mega Fortune
- Most Celebrated
- Mystique Heights
- Nachi Falls
- Orion D’Aubrelle
- Percy Street
- Poker Play
- Project Bluebook
- Royal Reserve
- Sir George Somers
- Soldier In Action
- Sword Fighter
- Zig Zag
- Deauville Crystal
- Dinaria Des Obeaux
- Evening Hush
- Magie Du Ma
- Mega Mindy
- Merie Devie