JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)
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Triumph Hurdle Betting Tips
The Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle is for Juvenile (4 year old) hurdlers only, over a distance of 2 miles and a furlong. Held on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival (Friday 17th March 2017), it’s been an excellent race for leading trainer Nicky Henderson with six lifetime wins.
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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, an 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 10 years (Zarkander 2011 and Celestial Halo 2008) but he’s 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 6th winner, the first way back in 1985. Barry Geraghty is the all time leading jockey, riding 4 winners (3 for Nicky Henderson and 1 for Joseph O’Brien) in the last 10 years and Jonjo O’Neills 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 3 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 either on the Flat.
The current antepost favourite is the very exciting prospect Defi Du Seuil, who has been going from strength to strength this season. Unbeaten on four starts in the UK & Ireland, he posted possibly his best effort yet when winning a Grade 1 at Chepstow over the Christmas period and it was the performance, winning with absolute ease despite some poor jumps in the home straight. He will definitely need to improve his jumping if he wants to win a Triumph Hurdle but he has shown himself to be incredibly progressive this season and versatile ground wise too which is certainly a big plus. He has arguably shown the best form so far out of the other entrants and if continuing to build his confidence and improve his jumping, he should be a very creditable threat in the race.
Joining Nicky Henderson after a cosy victory in a 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 looks a potentially very promising horse and is likely to make dramatic improvement on his second run for Seven Barrows, with Henderson already showing his admiration for his new recruit: “I love this horse, JP 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“. We will learn much more about him on his next run and if he can back up the promise he showed on debut, he could be the perfect package for the race as Henderson looks to win his seventh Triumph Hurdle.
Although beaten on his hurdling debut at Fairyhouse in December on his first run for Willie Mullins, the French recruit Bapaume lost nothing in defeat to fellow hopeful Landofhopeandglory. In fact, on his second run under rules he turned the tables on that rival at Leopardstown in a Grade 2, driven out but always holding his rival. As a French import who has joined Mullins and familiar owner Rich Ricci, he could well be another very smart horse in the making as these connections do very well with horses of similar profiles. He is likely to once again improve after that good display last time out and there is no telling how much potential he could have, as he travels supremely well through his races jumps well enough in the main, although improvement could be garnered in that area. A best priced 10/1 shot for the race, he has to be considered one of the main protagonists for the Gold Cup day opener.
Decent on the flat when in France, Meri Devie continued her progress when winning with something in hand on hurdling debut at Leopardstown in December. She beat the useful flat performer Housesofparliament in the process and was oozing class in the stylish performance. She jumped well in the main and quickened clear in the usual style of a useful Willie Mullins’ mare, and looks an intriguing prospect for the future. We should learn much more about her on her second start over timber and was enough to impress Ruby Walsh: “She’s a great attitude and she jumped super and it was a good performance. Hopefully she can build on that but you’d have to like the way she started off“. A best priced 10/1 with several firms, that price could well disappear if she is progressive on her final run before Cheltenham.
Very useful on the flat for Willie Mullins including an Irish Cesarewitch victory, Laws of Spin hasn’t yet been seen over hurdles. However if he was to transfer his flat form to hurdles he should be of a great standard over timber as long as he jumps well enough, but it is rare to see a Mullins novice jump badly so that shouldn’t be too much of a concern. He’s ground versatile as he’s performed well on good and heavy ground, with his Cesarewitch run all but confirming he’ll stay a two mile trip, so a general price of 20/1 could be underestimating his potential as we eagerly await his first run over hurdles.
Gordon Elliott’s filly Dinaria Des Obeaux make 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 doesn’t amount to much, it is also hard to not be impressed with 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“. Where she goes from here is anyone’s guess but that performance does show that she’s got a lot of potential, and is definitely a horse to put in the notebook for the rest of the season.
Leading trainer Nicky Henderson and leading jockey Barry Geraghty joined forces back in 2010 as Soldatino took the crown.
They 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 10 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 following the last and the gap was quickly eaten up 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, the horse responding magnificently to Costello’s urgings. He smashed his way through the final hurdle though 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.
Last year 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 3 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 JP 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 2nd. The good ground was key on the day, a horse that hates cut so everything dropped right for him on the day. Top work from young Joseph to train a Cheltenham festival winner so early on in his training career.