Triumph Hurdle Tips: Vauban the man for the opener

Pied Piper Generic Cheltenham

The first race of the day on Gold Cup Day at Cheltenham is the Triumph Hurdle. It looks like a race with some serious quality this season with a trio of high class juveniles who would be prominent in any year's market. Billy Grimshaw has assessed the field and has a selection...

There is often an Irish domination of the market in the Day Four opener and this year is no exception. The shortest priced British runner at the time of writing is Porticello, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by his son Jamie. He will almost certainly appreciate the expected softer surface after the torrential downpour on Wednesday which turned the ground from bordering on good to heavy in a matter of hours. Another British runner who looks sure to run his race is Knight Salute for Milton Harris and Paddy Brennan. He has probably been the outstanding British juvenile this season and has shown an admirable attitude on his five race winning streak, particularly when knuckling down to see off Teddy Blue last time out at Kempton. The latter named looked to be coming with a challenge and could improve past his Kempton conqueror in this race if the experience has done him some good, however in truth it would be a major surprise to see a British winner in this race with the strength of the Irish team.

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Predictably, Willie Mullins has a strong looking hand for the race once more. The first of his two representatives currently at double figure odds is Il Etait Temps, an inexperienced French recruit to Closutton who began life in promising fashion when beaten into third at the Dublin Racing Festival, but he looked no match for the top two and it would require a big leap forward for him to secure this Grade One. The other finished down the field in fifth in that race, Icare Allen and with his more exposed profile it is no surprise to see him listed as an outsider.

Gordon Elliott saddles the second and third favourites for this contest. The third favourite at the time of writing, but seeing support due to the conditions, is Fil Dor. He was the long time favourite for this race in the early weeks and months of the season and the Elliott camp seemed convinced he was their number one juvenile for the season and so it was a shock for the yard to see him so easily brushed aside as 6/5 favourite at the Dublin Racing Festival. The honour of being top Elliott Juvenile seems now to be bestowed upon Pied Piper, and his form is certainly rock solid with a victory at Prestbury Park over what looked like the best of the English at the time preceded by a victory over the current favourite for this race, Vauban.

Despite a loss on his record to his market rival in this contest, the vote has to go to Willie Mullins' favourite for this contest after the stunning visual impression he left when sauntering away from Fil Dor. Vauban has clearly been a work in progress throughout the season but he put it all together at Leopardstown with a performance that screamed future star. If he has improved for that run, as would be expected for a young horse trained at Closutton, he can gain vengeance on Pied Piper for that defeat earlier in the season and confirm form with Fil Dor. 

2022 Triumph Hurdle
Vauban silk


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