Thursday, 15 March 2012

Triumph Hurdle preview

The big juvenile race of the week is the Triumph, and stepping up to the plate is Andy Charles, @capitalgull


Triumph Hurdle

Arctic Reach – Plating class on the flat but made hay last summer when the ground was quick, although well beaten by Countrywide Flame even back then. Off (bar a jumpers bumper) for a while now and wouldn’t have the class to win this.

Asaid – Two low grade wins wouldn’t be enough to win this, although he did split those with a fourth behind Hisaabaat in a Grade 1 in Ireland. Godolphin cast-off from a shrewd yard but up against it.

Baby Mix – Boasts an in-and-out record since arriving in the United Kingdom, winning impressively on debut at Cheltenham before a flop at the same course when he went out like a light after a bad mistake two out. Bounced back at Kempton last time but that race was run to suit more than rival Sadler’s Risk and tables could be turned.

Balder Succes – Three-time winner since, like Baby Mix, coming over from France but his victories do not have a great deal of substance against, in the main, inferior rivals. The manner of his most recent win at Ascot was taking to the eye but doubts over quick ground.

Countrywide Flame – A Northern raider with plenty of experience. His two most recent runs in Grade 1 company read well but looks more one to be fighting out the places rather than storming up the hill to win. Faster ground should suit as well

Darroun – Flat-bred from the blue-blooded Aga Khan lines and impressed when winning a 25-runner maiden at Leopardstown. My main worry would be lack of experience but Willie Mullins is a dab hand with these types and definitely a danger.

Dodging Bullets – Beat Hisabaat (a rival here) on the flat last year and made a most pleasing bow over timber at Kempton when beaten 1 ½ lengths by Grumeti, but the winner was value for more and improvement is required.

Dysios – Former Luca Cumani inmate who has only run over timber twice and won on the second occasion at Navan two weeks ago, but it would be asking a lot to make the jump up from that victory to this level.

Grumeti – Could easily have two, three or four wins from his four starts but as it is it’s the middle of those options thanks to being handed a race at Cheltenham on the disqualification of Pearl Swan and losing one when falling at Newbury. Have a feeling he may prove better on a flat track and could be susceptible to strong finishers here. Reportedly 100% after a minor recent setback.

Hisaabaat – Was beaten by a few of these on his first four runs over timber but came good in a Grade 1 last time out that might hold the key to this race. Blinkers seemed to make the difference that day but they are left off now he has hit the winning thread. Jumped really well in his victory and that is a real positive. Big danger.

His Excellency – Thrashed by Hisaabaat last time out and has thrown away a couple of races because of a questionable attitude. Not for me, the swishing tail will not make him go any faster, that’s for sure.

Hollow Tree – Three-time winner who came off the flat with a decent reputation and enters calculations on his best form. Sure to be up with the pace (has been on every run so far) but might find it tough to keep going when the taps are turned on late.

Mattoral – Handed victory at Chepstow when a rival fell two out and 200/1 is probably about the right price based on his defeat at Sandown.

Pearl Swan – Disqualified after beating Grumeti last time out over course and distance (strange decision in my humble opinion) and that form gives him a cracking chance. The worry would be that he was outpaced for a while on softer ground than anticipated on Friday.

Sadler’s Risk – Flat recruit who was ante-post favourite for this race after winning impressively on his hurdling debut. Not so good second time up (again at Kempton) but the race was not run to suit and this test should be more up his alley. Respected.

Shadow Catcher – Beaten by Hisaabaat at Leopardstown on his most recent run, and while I respect his trainer Gordon Elliott, I am not truly sure why this is shorter in the market than the horse who came out on top last time.

Urbain De Sivola – Thrashed Ranjaan at Taunton a couple of runs ago and won again (dead-heated anyway) at the Somerset venue on his most recent effort. That form has him entering calculations but his jumping has been a concern at times and that could be a real problem with the field likely to go very fast here.

Ut De Sivola – Flopped behind Hisaabaat (and others) at Leopardstown on his first run on quicker ground. Another Mullins runner you would be foolish to ignore but just call me foolish…not for me unless a deluge hits Prestbury Park before the race.

West Brit – Improved a great deal on his debut (pulled up when favourite at Plumpton) to win at Musselburgh but the form is nothing special and probably needs to improve a couple of stones to win here.

Wingtips – Beaten in two big-field Irish juveniles, finishing behind some of his rivals here. Nothing to suggest he can turn around that form.

Verdict:

A wide open renewal of the juvenile championship with strong entries from Britain and Ireland, but it could be Irish eyes smiling for the first time since 2002 (Scolardy) thanks to Dermot Weld’s HISAABAAT. Got off the mark in Grade 1 company last time and although the blinkers have been left off that should not be seen as a huge negative. The leading home challengers have been beating one another but despite his Kempton reverse and the lack of winners from the Hobbs yard Sadler’s Risk could be the best of them. Would be no surprise to see Countrywide Flame run well again and the same remark applies to the blue-blooded Darroun.

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