Wednesday, February 29, 2012

JCB Triumph Hurdle preview

The Triumph Hurdle of old used to be considered a bit of a lottery, large fields and unpredictable results appeared to be the order of the day, the introduction of the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle appears to have made a change to that dynamic.

For a start, all of the last seven winners could be found in the first four in the betting and as Zarkandar proved last year it’s now possible to win off a very limited preparation – he had just one run over hurdles prior to his Cheltenham victory and became the first horse in 47 years to achieve that feat. What has always paid to take heed of is the horses that have won their last start and we would give them an extra tick in the selection box. Last season’s 1-2-3 all won on their most recent start (unlike the favourite, Sam Winner, who finished fourth) thus extending the record of last-time-out winners to 13 of the last 14. Those placing Cheltenham 2012 bets need to remember this.

Pace as well as stamina is an important asset in a Triumph Hurdle candidate so perhaps it’s no surprise to see that of the last 17 winners, 16 of them have very much a Flat pedigree and it is also very much a point of note that seven of the last eight winners did not have their hurdling debut until at least December, but the last 20 winners have all run after January 17th of that year. Fans of Cheltenham betting should bear this in mind.

Although the race is run at level weights it can pay to take a look at the relative BHA marks for each horse and we would be willing to rule out anything with a mark of 138 or less, along with any horse that ran in a handicap last time out – all 28 horses that tried to do that failed.

There are plenty of trial races for the Triumph Hurdle and the one that stands out is the Adonis Hurdle from Kempton, won this year by Babymix - as many as five of the last 12 winners going on to double up in the Triumph and that would probably have been six had Binocular not been re-routed at the last moment to the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

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