|Tuesday 30th January 2024
Sir Gino Makes Major Triumph Hurdle Statement on Cheltenham Trials Day
There are plenty of lead-in races to the Cheltenham Festival that can mark the cards of punters, with the track’s own Trials Day in January an excellent indicator of form and liking for the unique conditions at Prestbury Park.
Of the 2024 card, no performance was more eye-catching than that of Sir Gino, with the four-year-old blitzing the field by ten lengths and more in the JBC Triumph hurdle trial.
So impressive was that effort, the Nicky Henderson horse has already been backed in heavily by punters for the race itself at the March showpiece…
Oh What a Knight
Those that bet on Cheltenham Festival ante-post markets are already getting their metaphorical tanks on the lawn ahead of the 2024 edition, with Sir Gino sure to be a popular choice at 11/8 for the Triumph Hurdle ahead of the likes of Storm Heart (5/1), Bunting (7/1) and Kargese (10/1).
The Cheltenham results from that Trials Day meeting confirm that the cat is out of the bag for Henderson and the connections of Sir Gino, who were quick to dampen expectations after an excellent debut win on English soil in December.
The son of It’s Gino prevailed on decent ground at Kempton in another scene-setting juvenile hurdle race, but it was the manner in which he despatched Burdett Road – the current fifth-favourite for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Festival – that most impressed onlookers.
Henderson too was thrilled with what he saw. “He is very good,” the legendary trainer commented. “I think we have been quite bullish, but reluctant to show too much in case we finish up with egg on our face.”
The proof of the pudding will be in the eating come the Cheltenham Festival, with Sir Gino most likely to run in the Triumph Hurdle on Friday, March 15. If he runs to the form shown on Trials Day, he will be anointed as a king of the meeting for years to come with age on his side.
Not So Jonbon Jovial
While Sir Gino delighted his backers at the Cheltenham Trials Day, for those supporting Jonbon it proved to be a disastrous afternoon.
The eight-year-old, twice beaten at the Festival by excellent horses in Constitution Hill and El Fabiolo, had shown his class on the Old Course at Cheltenham by winning the Schloer Chase in November – taking down a quality field that included the respected Edwardstone.
A facile triumph was expected in January then as Jonbon lined up for the Clarence House Chase as a 1/4 favourite – but what should have been a casual winter’s stroll to victory soon became something rather more catastrophic.
Elixir De Nutz BEATS Jonbon! 勞 pic.twitter.com/iUKCXnSoHj— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) January 27, 2024
A couple of jumping errors caught the eye as did a tendency to hang left, which allowed 22/1 outsider Elixir De Nutz enough scope to claim an unlikely win.
Cheltenham Trials Day is supposed to act as a card-marker for the best horses on show, but for Jonbon all it’s served to do is enhance punters’ interest in El Fabiolo – the Arkle winner of 2023 whose unbeaten run now stretches back to 2022 – for the Champion Chase.
Will Jonbon be able to overcome that Trials Day disaster and upend the formbook come March?