The Triumph Hurdle is the leading juvenile race of the season and kicks off the action on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival. Solo made a big impression on his UK debut for Paul Nicholls and is our main selection. Aspire Tower is rated the biggest danger, despite taking a tumble in Ireland on his most recent start. Outsiders often do well here and Hook Up should run a lot better than her odds suggest.
Solo joined Paul Nicholls from France at the end of January and made his UK debut at Kempton last month. He arrived with a big reputation and started a well-backed favourite before storming to a 13 lengths success. It could be argued that he did not beat a great deal in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle but the style of his victory suggested that he is well above average.
Bookmakers immediately slashed his odds for the Triumph Hurdle and he quickly became the new market leader. The son of Kapgarde is still an entire but has the stamp of a chaser and it will be fascinating to see how he copes with the step up in class. Nicholls has trained many top class horses and has made no secret of how highly he regards Solo.
Nicholls has also declared Sir Psycho after his impressive win in the Victor Ludorum Hurdle at Haydock. It was his third win from five starts over hurdles and Bryony Frost retains the ride. Solo is undoubtedly the stable number one here and is a top-priced 7-2 with Ladbrokes.
The most fancied Irish runner is Aspire Tower, trained by Henry De Bromhead who enjoyed an opening day double at the Festival. Aspire Tower scored wide-margin victories at Punchestown and Leopardstown before falling in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle. He was being challenged when falling at the final flight.
A Wave Of The Sea came through to pick up the pieces, beating Wolf Prince and Cerberus. The third horse appeared to idle after being left in front and had defeated A Wave Of The Sea at Fairyhouse in December. Providing that Aspire Tower is none the worse for his tumble, he rates the main danger to Solo at 13-2 with Ladbrokes.
Trainer Dan Skelton has questioned whether Solo is entitled to be rated superior to his unbeaten gelding Allmankind. He has won over course and distance and followed up with an easy 9 lengths victory in a Grade 1 at Chepstow. The latest victory at the end of December was achieved in heavy ground so the going should not be a problem. He had to make his own running that day and raced very keenly in the early stages.
Goshen arrives at the Festival with a very similar profile for Gary Moore. He has been at the head of the market since winning by 11 lengths at Ascot in January. The horses he has beaten have boosted the form, notably Nordano who turned a handicap at Ascot into a procession last month. That horse was beaten a similar margin by Allmankind at Chepstow.
Willie Mullins runs two fillies, both with only one previous outing. Burning Victory is by Nathaniel and made errors before beating Great Bear at Fairyhouse. Hook Up finished nearly five lengths behind her that day after leading at the second last. I liked the way she cut through the field before tiring on the run-in.
That was Hook Up’s first race for almost a year and she is a winner on the flat in her native France on heavy ground. This race has a history of shock results and Hook Up looks certain to improve and rates a sporting each-way bet at 40-1 with Bet365.