Rolling Star Tops Triumph Hurdle Contenders
The market for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, on Friday, March 15, is now taking shape with more juveniles having had a run, and a few more to make their debut in the coming weeks.
Due to the appalling weather so far this season, it remains to be seen whether we can take too much from the form of the current front-runners, unless the rain continues to fall well into March, and the going at Cheltenham 2013 remains testing.
Rolling Star is currently favourite with most bookmakers after an impressive win in the Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham on January 26.
Nicky Henderson’s French import got the better of the Paul Nicholls trained Irish Saint by 2¼ lengths.
Henderson said "It's only his second run over hurdles; he's run a few times on the Flat on racecourses, when I looked them up this morning, I'd seriously never heard of them and he hadn't been winning those so I was a bit concerned about what the value of it all was.
"We've had him about five months and left him alone completely to start with. He's a lovely horse, great temperament, great attitude, just a thoroughly nice person; he's always looked like a nice horse.
"Barry said he jumped great, he just had a few blows on the way round but he was entitled to do that. We were trying to finish off his preparation in some seriously difficult circumstances. I don't think he'd mind better ground, it won't hurt him.
When asked whether Rolling Star would be the yard's main contender for the Triumph, Henderson replied: "There are a couple of others still to fire but you'd think he's going to be, I suspect that's where he's going to have to head for.
"The decision will be whether we have to do it again before the day, he can afford to have another run if we want to."
Paul Nicholls' Far West has won two JCB Triumph Hurdle trials at Cheltenham this term, the most recent on December 15 on heavy ground and it is possible that he may go straight to the Festival.
Nicholls said: "There's no plan with Far West, he's completely A1, though.
"I haven't been searching for another race for him and it wouldn't be crucial that he even had another run before the Triumph."
The Willie Mullins-trained Diakali enhanced his claims with an easy victory in the Visit punchestown.com For All Our Offers Juvenile Hurdle on January 12. The four-year-old (1-2 favourite) set out to make all under Paul Townend and never saw another rival in the Grade Three event.
Trainer John Quinn believes Hidden Justice could be a lively outsider for the JCB Triumph Hurdle after he secured his second win over obstacles on a good card at Catterick on February 1.
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