Triumph Hurdle Ante-Post Odds: Fil your boots with the classy Dor at Cheltenham
Kicking off the final day of the Cheltenham Festival will be the Triumph Hurdle, and our man Steve Chambers takes a look at the latest ante-post odds and picks out his best bet for the juvenile showpiece, at this current stage...
Having saddled Tiger Roll (2014) and Farclas (2018) to Triumph Hurdle glory, Gordon Elliott knows what it takes to win the curtain-raiser to Cheltenham Gold Cup day, and the Cullentra House handler has a leading contender in the 2022 renewal in the shape of the 5/2 ante-post favourite Fil Dor. Unbeaten after three starts over hurdles, the son of Doctor Dino has been improving significantly with every run, and having beaten Lunar Power (25/1) by one-and-three-quarter lengths in a Fairyhouse Grade 3 two starts ago, he then smashed that same rival by seven lengths in the Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.
A slight novicey leap at the last flight halted his momentum in the closing stages of that Leopardstown event, but he quickened away ultra-impressively to propel to a clear favourite for the Triumph Hurdle, and if he can continue his dominance in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival then he can cement his place as the leading four-year-old in training. Some may feel the 5/2 on offer is a little skinny, but he's shown the best form to date over hurdles in the juvenile division to date, and he could well prove to be a cut above his rivals and is hard to look past.
Willie Mullins, who saddled Burning Victory to glory in the race two years ago, could have a strong team heading to the race and the Closutton team appeared to be spearheaded by Vauban, who is the current 8/1 second favourite. He ran an eye-catching race behind the Elliott-trained Pied Piper (14/1) in a maiden hurdle at Punchestown, and that pair pulled 15 lengths clear of the rest of the field. Both showed they have huge potential that day, but with only one run to date on their CVs then it's hard to assess the strength of the form, so at this stage they are best watched.
Icare Allen (12/1) is another potential Mullins contender and he won on his Irish debut for the Co. Carlow operation at Leopardstown impressively, but like his stablemate he is yet to show a level of form anything close to the abovementioned Fil Dor, so is one to scratch off the list as we head into February.
Gary Moore will have horrible memories of the Triumph Hurdle, as two years ago his Goshen coasted to the lead before falling at the final flight when well clear. Well, now he has another smart juvenile in the shape of Porticello, who is a 12/1 chance for the 2022 running and is sure to be one of the premier British-trained raiders. Last seen winning the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow, he had previously been beaten by the Milton Harris-trained Knight Salute at Doncaster, and that Harris raider is another eye-catching contender at 14/1. Both have shown a real high level of form this season, and could be leading contenders if continuing on an upward curve and could be solid each-way plays.
A runaway 17-length winner of a juvenile hurdle at Kempton's Christmas meeting, Iceo was instantly slashed to a 14/1 chance for the Triumph, and he could be flying the flag for a Paul Nicholls team, who last won the race back in 2011 with Zarkandar. A hugely exciting display on his British debut has seen Iceo launch into the Triumph picture, and he could be joined by stablemates Rubaud and Grivetina (both 40/1), but that pair are yet to step foot on a racecourse, and it would be no surprise to see one of them line up in the Adonis at Kempton in a few weeks.
Others worthy of a mention include The Tide Turns (25/1), who is another from the Elliott yard that could feature, while the Nick Williams-trained Interne De Sivola won a Triumph Hurdle trial back in December and is available around the 20/1 mark. However, Fil Dor certainly looks to have the strongest form on the table to date, so while he is short at the moment, he looks the most likely winner at this stage.