January 30, 2012 Leave a comment
In terms of tactics Ruby Walsh rode a master class of a ride on Pearl Swan in the Triumph Hurdle Trail at Cheltenham on Saturday which sadly for him, was marred by the horse hanging to the right and bumping into the leader Grumeti coming up the hill. Although Walsh still managed to get his horse in front at the line by a short head he was later demoted into second place after the Stewards Enquiry confirmed the contact affected the result.
Nonetheless it was a very revealing trial for the Triumph Hurdle itself in March, for which neither of them have been made the favourite. Indeed the Bookmakers found it difficult to split them in the market quoting the pair at around the 8/1, with Sadler’s Risk from the Phillip Hobbs stable holding sway at the top of the Triumph Hurdle market with odds of 7/1.
Walsh held the Pearl Swan up at the rear of the field until unleashing a furious attack two from home managing to pick off the leader Grumeti on the line, crossing a short head in front. It was not a great way to lose a race of course, and it also led to a 3 day ban for Walsh, but despite his hanging, the manner in which he completed the last half mile of the race was extremely impressive. Moreover, trainer Paul Nicholls believes he will improve hugely for the run and believes he is a very real contender to win the ‘Triumph’.
Grumeti had gone off in the Trial as the 7/4 joint favourite and while he justified the betting, Baby Mix, who he had shared favouritism ran poorly, finishing last of the six runners. Baby Mix had previously ran over course and distance back in December and won in cracking style by 7 lengths and had many pundits believing that he was the Triumph Hurdle winner designate. However, Tom George’s charge failed to maintain the pace and faded rapidly from two out and finished like a horse way out of his depth. Notwithstanding, the plan is still to run him in the ‘Triumph’ at Cheltenham for which he now has odds of 20/1.
Sadler’s Risk rose to prominence with an outstanding performance in a competitive Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton Park a fortnight ago winning as he pleased by 17 lengths. He will of course need to confirm his potential by stepping up to graded company but on the evidence of his Kempton Park run, then he should be able to take that step comfortably.
Surprisingly bookmakers are reporting plenty of support for the Dessie Hughes trained Minsk, who has yet to race over hurdles, but who has been a good winner on the flat taking the honours by over five lengths in the Irish Cesarewitch at the Curragh back in October. Hughes intends to debut him over hurdles in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown in 12th February, a race won in 2011 by the Dermot Weld trained, Unaccompanied, who went on to finish second in the Triumph Hurdle behind Zarkandar. Currently Minsk is a 10/1 shot to win the 2012 Triumph Hurdle.