JCB Triumph Hurdle Betting Tips & Predictions – Cheltenham, Friday 15th March 2019

The youngsters kick off the action on the fourth and final day in what is the Festival’s only Grade 1 event restricted to the four year olds.

JP McManus’s run of three successive wins in this race was brought to an end when Apple’s Shakira disappointed last year, but looking at this year’s field we fancy those famous green and gold silks may be back in the winners enclosure this time around.

Top Tips

Sir Erec to win @ Evens

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Race Info

Two miles and a furlong is the trip for the Festival’s premier event for the juveniles. We are expecting soft ground for this Grade 1 affair, with £125,000 in total prize money up for grabs.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Soft 2m1f Grade 1 £125,000 14 Runners 1/4 1-3

Recent Winners

This has generally been a good race for those towards the head of the market, with the only really big shock in the past decade coming when Countrywide Flame caused a 33/1 upset in 2012.

Nicky Henderson has the best recent record here having recorded three wins in the past decade, including a remarkable 1-2-3 in 2015.

YearWinnerSPTrainerJockey
2018 Farclas 9/1 Gordon Elliott Jack Kennedy
2017 Defi Du Seuil 5/2 Philip Hobbs Richard Johnson
2016 Ivanovich Gorbatov 9/2 Aidan O’Brien Barry Geraghty
2015 Peace And Co 2/1 Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty
2014 Tiger Roll 10/1 Gordon Elliott Davy Russell

Analysis: Sir To Take Top Honours

As intriguing a field as ever, with many of these looking to have the potential to go on to bigger and better things in time. Paul Nicholls and co looks set to put up a bold show for the home team, but overall the Irish look to boast the strongest hand.

Joy For Joseph?

Young Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien first burst onto the jumps training scene with the success of Ivanovich Gorbatov in this race in 2016. That JP McManus runner may have been officially under the banner of his father Aidan O’Brien, but it was widely acknowledged that it was Joseph who prepared the horse for the race. This year Joseph looks to have a fine chance of having his name officially added to the list of winning trainers, and it as another McManus runner who is well fancied by many to get the job done.

Rated 109 on the flat, having kept the company of Stradivarius amongst others, he has made an impeccable start to his jumping career. He did have to tough it out to see off Tiger Tap Tap on debut but looked in a different league to that horse and the rest on his second start. Six lengths was the winning margin in that Grade 1 at Leopardstown, and with the prospect of still more to come he looks the one they all have to beat.

Quel Destined To Win?

Paul Nicholls seems to be carrying his good form into the Cheltenham Festival with his runners largely running right up to expectations this week. If that continues to be the case here, then expect Quel Destin to at least give the favourite something to think about. In possession of an admirable “thou shall not pass” attitude, this one arrives on a five race winning streak and was particularly impressive in seeing off the highly regarded Adjali in a Grade 1 at Chepstow two starts back. A six-length winner at Haydock last time out, despite reportedly not being fully tuned up, he looks very likely to run a big race.

Tap Tap Knocking On The Door

We had one Tiger light up the stage on day two here, with the scintillating success of Tiger Roll in the Cross Country Chase, and it’s not impossible that we may have another here in the form of the Willie Mullins-trained Tiger Tap Tap. This one made Sir Erec pull out all the stops when going down by what was a diminishing neck on his debut for the yard and whilst he disappointed behind that same rival last time out, he did have excuses that day – being squeezed for room and putting in a couple of poor jumps. He’s in the right hands to sort those jumping issues out and looks one of the more appealing outsiders.

Final Verdict: Sir Erec To Win

The jollies have had a good record in this race of late with three winning favourites in the past four years and we feel that trend may continue this year.

Joseph O’Brien got off the mark at the meeting with Band Of Outlaws in the Fred Winter on Day Two and can strike with another juvenile hurdler here. His Sir Erec is fancied to prove a cut above the opposition.

About the Triumph Hurdle: Kicking Off the Final Day in Style

There are always a few weary racing fans in the crowd for the final day of the Cheltenham Festival. The toll taken from the first three days of racing and celebration (especially St Patrick’s Thursday) means many of those heading to Prestbury Park took their time getting out on the Friday, but the spirits are always lifted by the first race of the day, the Triumph Hurdle.

Open only to four-year-old novices, many of the brightest prospects in National Hunt racing are entered into this Grade 1 which takes place over two miles and one furlong.

The Triumph Hurdle has become synonymous with the Cheltenham Festival over the last few decades so many racing fans are surprised when they find out that it has not always been run at Prestbury Park. From its inaugural race in 1939 to 1962 it took place at the now defunct Hurst Park although no renewals were held for the entirety of the 1940s.

During those early years it became a leading target for international horses with French trained hurdlers having a particularly impressive record. French trainers were frustrated when the Triumph Hurdle did not appear on the National Hunt schedule in 1963 or 1964 but their worries were soon eased with the announcement that it would be moved to Cheltenham where it made enough of an impression to be moved from a meeting in April to the Festival itself after just three renewals at Prestbury Park.

The move to Cheltenham added to the prestige of the Triumph Hurdle and with that came sponsors who wanted to be associated with it. The Daily Express were the first sponsors before the Elite Racing Club in 1997. JCB’s long running sponsorship of the event began in 2002 and they’re signed up for a few more years yet.

Many Routes in and Out

It is fitting due to the Triumph Hurdle’s rather complicated history that there is nothing straightforward about the race as a contest. Although it is one of the biggest Novice Hurdles around there is no strict template that winners have followed either before the race or after it.

There are any number of important trials in the early season that attract leading contenders from both the UK and Ireland. The most obvious of these are the three JCB Triumph Hurdle Trials held at Cheltenham between November and January. Gaining experience at Cheltenham can prove to be vital but it’s the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle that tends to be the best indicator of Triumph Hurdle success. Five winners of that race at Kempton have gone on to win since 1999 whilst others have run well in both without winning.

In terms of future success, connections of many of those who win or claim a place in the Triumph Hurdle have the Champion Hurdle at the following year’s Cheltenham Festival firmly in mind. It takes a horse of the highest calibre to go on and complete the double though and thus far only four have managed it: Clair Soleil, Persian War, Kribensis and Katchit.

One of the other possibilities for Triumph Hurdle winners is the Stayers’ Hurdle. It’s a sharp increase in distance to three miles but that’s the route taken by the 2014 Triumph Hurdle winner, Tiger Roll, who went on to win the Grand National. He’s not the only horse who has gone on to contest major chases. Commanche Court, for example, won both the Punchestown Gold Cup and the Irish Grand National in 2000.

Notable Triumph Hurdle Winners

Horse (Year of Triumph Hurdle Win)Principal Victories
Tiger Roll (2014) Grand National (2018)
Katchit (2007) Champion Hurdle (2008)
Commanche Court (1997) Punchestown Gold Cup (2000)
Kribensis (1988) Champion Hurdle (1990)
Persian War (1967) Champion Hurdle (1968,1969, 1970)

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