Race Time: 12.40pm Meeting: Cheltenham Day: Saturday 14th November 2015
Distance: 2m 87yds Full Race Name: JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (Registered as the Prestbury Juvenile Hurdle Race) (Grade Two) Class One
Daft as it may sound in early November, the countdown to the Cheltenham Festival next March pretty much begins here and although we rather doubt we see the winner of the Triumph Hurdle proper in action this afternoon, all things are possible. Trainer Paul Nichols has won three of the last five renewals of this race and will be represented this year by Romain De Senam (7/4) who is a bit of an unknown quantity. At the risk of sounding repetitive, he was yet another unknown quantity bought in from France after winning at Enghien but must have been showing plenty at home to be sent off heavily odds on for his British debut at Wincanton where he made all the running before pulling away for a very cosy fifteen length success. Unfortunately, the form isn’t working out too well as yet with the runner up beaten even further next time out, though the third did win a handicap on the flat at Wolverhampton for what that is worth when we are talking about hurdling, of course? He may well improve again, and will take some catching if he can slip this small field as seems likely, and the tactics employed by all the jockeys may well decide who wins and who doesn’t this afternoon.
Oceane (7/4) was pretty decent on the flat as Alan King allows the three year old to takes his chances here and keep his 100% record. His two wins over hurdles at Fontwell and Kempton have been very taking to the eye, especially last time out where he cruised home by eight lengths from previous winners Big McIntosh and Goldslinger, and although this is a much bigger test than he has faced so far on paper, he has impressed and must have a brilliant chance.
The last of the four unbeaten horses is admittedly once raced, but Wolf Of Windlesham (12/1) deserves a mention at the very least, even if he is another who would not live with Oceane and co were this a flat race. The son of Mastercraftsman pulled off a 16/1 shock at Ludlow when romping home seventeen lengths clear of Fast Scat with the odds on Red Hammer a further twelve lengths back in third, though what that form actually adds up to is open too question. Joshua Moore looks likely to be reunited with him here and we wish them both the very best, though we still feel he will need to pull off another shock of similar proportions were he to come home in front this afternoon.
David Pipe has as strong a team as any year even if he has suffered a few reversals in recent days, but he will be hoping for a big run from the lightly raced Fingertips (9/2) who is yet another import from you know where? Yep, the French bred won in the provinces at Bordeaux Le Bouscat and was then second to Romain De Senam at Enghien after which the cheque books came out and he was sold to his new connections for 45,000 Euros. Generally speaking, they are inclined to improve for a move to the state of the art facilities at our top yards, but the fact is we don’t know how much more he needs to find in the context of this event, yet the betting suggests he is quite well fancied and we await his run with interest.