The Paul Nicholls-trained Irish Saint did his JCB Triumph Hurdle claims no harm at all with a brave success at Kempton in the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle, battling on bravely to just get the better of the useful Vasco du Ronceray by half-a-length, writes Elliot Slater.
Generally a 33/1 shot in the Cheltenham Ante post betting for the juvenile hurdling crown at the Festival on March 15 prior to his Kempton success, Ruby Walsh’s mount was slashed to a top price of 16/1 after getting the better of a tough battle with the Nicky Henderson-trained runner-up, having been giving a waiting ride, looking as though he had plenty to do as they turned for home.
To his credit the gelded son of Saint Des Saint really dug deep to outrun Vasco Du Ronceray who remains a 25/1 shot for the Triumph Hurdle.
Particularly pleasing for connections will have been the fact that the winner demonstrated he is capable of showing his form on a decent surface and isn’t just a mudlark, having won two of this three previous career starts on a deep surface.
The winner of a listed hurdle at Auteuil on his debut in September, Irish Saint made a winning start for the Nicholls team at Kempton in December when slamming McVicar by 18 lengths, before running well in defeat when second to the classy Henderson-trained Rolling Star at Cheltenham at the end of January, the winner currently being one of three 5/1 co-favourites for the Triumph Hurdle and paid a big compliment by the Adonis Hurdle success of the runner-up.
Surely worth taking his chance now at Cheltenham in the feature contest, Irish Saint seems versatile as regards ground and tactics, and has the right attitude having knuckled down well on all starts when coming under pressure. He looks a very interesting Triumph Hurdle contender.
Race fans have an exciting few months coming up with Cheltenham and the big race at Aintree. Check out the Grand National 2013 betting for the latest from the feature contest.