Wednesday 4 February 2015

2015 Cheltenham Festival - Triumph Hurdle History & Trends

This Grade 1 National Hunt race is open to colts & fillies aged four years old. It is run on the New Course at Cheltenham over a distance of 2m 1f. It's open to novice hurdlers and run on the 13th March, Gold Cup Day, the last day of the Cheltenham Festival at Prestbury Park. 

This race was established in 1939 and won by a horse called Grey Talk, trained by George Batchelor. 

In those early days it was held at Park Hurst, Surrey. Surprisingly it was contested by a number of horses trained in France. Indeed, six of the first seven winners were French-based. Unknown to many, Letser Piggott won this race in 1954. 

The Triumph Hurdle moved to Cheltenham in 1965 and became part of the Festival in 1968. Most notable winner include Clair Soleil (1953), Persian War (1967), Kribensis (1988) and Katchit (2007). All these juveniles went on to win the Champion Hurdle.

Nicky Henderson is the leading trainer with five wins. Last year's race was won in fantastic style by the Gordon Elliot-trainer Tiger Roll, ridden by Davy Russell at odds of 10/1, by three-and-a-quarter lengths. 

What about the Triumph Hurdle trends? Here are some pointers. 

  • The vast majority of recent winners have won on their last start before the big day. 
  • Generally horses have an official rating over 80 on the Flat and raced over one and a half miles.
  •  Tiger Roll won in 2014, the year before we saw the impressive Our Conor. 
  • However, there had been a twelve-year void for the Irish challengers before this duo shone.
  •  English-trained horses hold the aces from a statistical pointer.
  •  A preparatory race in the month before the festival is another key factor to finding a winner.
  • Most runners have at least three runs over hurdles. 
  • Fancied horse often go best - so outsiders are best watched. 

This year's leading lights are detailed by the first three favourite with the next best 20/1 bar (written: 5th February). 

Peace And Co (pictured) is fancied to run a big race and presently 7/4f. This bay gelding, a son of Falco out of a French mare, is trained by Nicky Henderson. It races in the familiar silks of Simon Munir & Isaac Souede. He started his hurdling career in Clairefontaine, France. Some six-months later, this four-year-old made an impressive debut for his new connections at Doncaster - prevailing by nineteen lengths. The dogs have been barking about this exciting prospect and it is fitting he made a winning return at Cheltenham in one of the Triumph Hurdle Trials, ridden by Barry Geraghty. Considering Henderson's charge pulled hard in the early stages that victory was all the more pleasing. With earnings of over £45,000 there could be more to come. 

The two major fancied include Irish hope Kalkir, trained by Willie Mullins. This grey gelding has won once in three starts to date. He is generally priced at 8/1. 

Nicky Henderson has a strong hand with stablemate Hargam, owned by J P McManus. This grey gelding, a son of Sinndar, has been busy with six races so far. His first three efforts were in France on the Flat, before racing at Cheltenham for new connection. In December, he beat Karezak, who had been similarly defeated by Peace And Co. His most recent victory at Musselburgh saw a ready success in the hands of A P McCoy. By all accounts Henderson looks the man to follow this year.