As the first race of the meet on Cheltenham Gold Cup day, the Triumph Hurdle plays a big part in generating a rocking atmosphere for the main event and always provides a classy winner…
What happened in 2013?
Our Conor gave purists and his backers plenty to smile about as he put in one of the most impressive performances in a championship Cheltenham Festival event.
Dessie Hughes’ superstar was in a different league to his rivals, thrashing them by 15 lengths as the Triumph Hurdle, arguably one of the most competitive races of the entire meeting, was turned into a precession.
The 4/1 joint second favourite arrived unbeaten and there was talk in Ireland that this young hurdler could be something a bit special, and those rumours were found to be true.
Hurdling slickly just off the pace, Our Conor pulled his way to the front – a little sooner than jockey Bryan Cooper wanted – but once he hit the front, it was a case of how far he would win by. The sign of a really top-draw horse is his ability to keep galloping all the way to the line and that’s what this fella did, even without Cooper asking too much out of him.
Only Katchit in the last 45 years has followed up a Triumph Hurdle win in the Champion Hurdle a year later, but Our Conor looks to have serious claims of doing the same.
He jumps and travels superbly, and, while he has done all his racing over hurdles in testing conditions, he promises to be fully effective on better ground too.
The Champion Hurdle market principles are all getting on a bit, so it looks a fantastic chance for Our Conor, who looks an out and out two miler, to make his mark.
The rest of the field were strung out across Cheltenham, with the Paul Nicholls pair of Far West and Sametegal leading the home. Of the two, Far West looks potentially a very decent long term chasing prospect for the Nicholls team. He thrived in these conditions and stayed on well to win the race in behind Our Conor after getting caught for toe when the pace quickened.
2014 Major Players
Hard to assess this year’s challengers at the time of writing as we’re dealing with very young horses that are open to an unknown amount of improvement.
Trainer Alan King always has a good eye for decent four-year-old hurdler, having saddled two Triumph Hurdle winners. Chocala has looked a horse with a great staying attitude on the Flat and there are noises coming out of the King yard that this one might just be a Triumph contender if taking to the sticks.
Apart from him, at this stage, it’s hard to assess the major players.
Please feel free to return here nearer the race for a lowdown on all the big challengers.
Betting advice: strong race trends
Latching yourself onto winning form is crucial when dabbling in this market as 17 of the last 20 Triumph Hurdle winners had previous winning form on their last start. When you consider more than half of the field won’t have crossed the line in front on their previous start, this trend is a great place to start in order to rule out a big percentage of the field.
It’s best to keep an eye on the William Hill Adonis Hurdle in February for the UK challengers as five of the last 14 winners had won that event before doubling up at Cheltenham. In Ireland, the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown run on Irish Hennessey day is also a great pointer for this event.
Bookmakers haven’t taken a firm stance on this race yet, so an ante post punt would be difficult to plot.