JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial
(Registered As The Finesse Juvenile Hurdle)
Grade 2, Cheltenham 11:40
£80,000 guaranteed, 4yo only,
2m 1f, Class 1  
Saturday 28th January 2023

Free Racing Tips

1 Comfort Zone 2/1F
2 Scriptwriter 5/2
3 Dixon Cove 4/1
7 ran NR: Fils De Roi Distances: ¾l, 6½l, 4½l
Time: 4m 9.06s (slow by 12.06s)

Joseph O’Brien’s Comfort Zone made a successful raid to British shores when taking the Finale Juvenile Hurdle over Christmas and added a second successive Grade Two prize when downing Milton Harris’ Scriptwriter – who headed into the Cheltenham feature as one of the home team’s best Triumph Hurdle hopes. 

Scriptwriter looked to be travelling beautifully as Paddy Brennan charted a typically wide course round Prestbury Park, but the 2-1 favourite Comfort Zone was smuggled into contention by Jonjo O’Neill Jr and having jumped the last level pulled out more on the run to the line to prevail by half a length. 

The winner was cut to 10-1 from 14-1 by QuinnBet for the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival, while he is 7-1 from 8s for the Boodles Fred Winter.

O’Neill said: “Scriptwriter is probably the best gauge-stick in England anyway, so I was happy with the performance.

“Scriptwriter was a non-runner on the day at Chepstow, so I suppose that performance was a bit better – you’d never have known. But I think the track probably suited him and maybe riding him like that was a bit more sensible.”


Asked about plans, he replied: “Leave it to the trainer and connections, they know more than me and what else they have in the races and stuff.

“I think he definitely deserves his chance in whatever race. I wouldn’t mind riding him, anyway. His hurdling was grand, a couple he got in a little bit short but I had him right down the inside and wanted to settle him, so I couldn’t be looking for loads of light.

“The ground is quite dead and he might be better on better ground, but he handles soft at Chepstow, so I’d say he is pretty versatile.”

Of Scriptwriter, Milton Harris: “It is just frustrating. Look, they are good horses. We just didn’t get the rub of the green.

“It wasn’t the ground. He just got to the front miles too soon. He is a horse who has come from Ballydoyle, where he has been a lead horse for Derby horses and he has been taught to lead horses, get headed, and that’s him, so you have got to hit it late and he has just travelled too well into the race.

“I was not impressed with finishing second. He is a good horse and we’ll be back and take on the winner.

“He just got there too soon. Paddy is spitting feathers as he got there too soon and is blaming himself. We should have hit the front in the last 50 yards and he would have won – he knows that.”

He added: “We don’t want to be poor losers, but it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest taking on the winner again.

“We will come back to fight another day and take the winner on in March.”

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JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial
(Registered As The Finesse Juvenile Hurdle) (Grade 2)
£80,000 guaranteed, 4yo only, 2m 179y, Class 1
7 ran
Going: Soft, Good to Soft in places

1     Comfort Zone 4 11-5 Joseph O'Brien Jonjo O'Neill Jr 2/1F
¾ Scriptwriter 4 11-5 Milton Harris Paddy Brennan 5/2
Dixon Cove 4 10-12 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 4/1
Active Duty 4 11-0 Ben Pauling Luca Morgan 50/1
10 Mombasa 4 11-5 Philip Hobbs Mr David Maxwell 80/1
7 Jupiter Du Gite 4 11-0 Gary Moore Jamie Moore 3/1
17 Naeva 4 10-7 Alexandra Dunn Adam Wedge 150/1
NR 5 Fils De Roi 4 11-0 Fergal O'Brien NON RUNNER

Year Horse Owner Trainer Weight Jockey SP

1990 Sayyure Brian Lovrey Nigel Tinkler 11-08 Graham McCourt 3/1
1991 Hopscotch Pipe Scudamore Racing Martin Pipe 11-02 Peter Scudamore 8/11 f
1992 Abandoned
1993 Major Bugler Colin Buckle Toby Balding 11-00 Adrian Maguire 13/2
1994 Pridwell Pond House Racing Martin Pipe 11-00 Richard Dunwoody 3/1
1995 Brave Tornado Bridget Swire Toby Balding 11-04 AP McCoy 7/2
1996 Abandoned
1997 Shooting Light John Brown Pat Murphy 11-00 Richard Dunwoody 10/11 f
1998 Zafarabad Elaine Baines David Nicholson 11-00 Richard Johnson 1/3 f
1999 Hors La Loi III John Martin Francois Doumen FR 11-08 Thierry Doumen 5/2
2000 Mister Banjo Million In Mind P’ship Nicky Henderson 11-08 Mick Fitzgerald 2/7 f
2001 Jair Du Cochet Miriam Montauban Guillaume Macaire FR 11-08 Jacques Ricou Evens f
2002 Vol Solitaire Barry Marshall Paul Nicholls 11-00 Joe Tizzard 11/1
2003 Moneytrain Tina Hamann Christian Von Der Recke GER 11-00 Robert Thornton 25/1
2004 Mondul Let’s Live Racing Milton Harris 11-08 Ollie McPhail 11/2
2005 Akilak Ada Partnership Howard Johnson 11-00 Graham Lee 50/1
2006 Abandoned
2007 Katchit D S J P Syndicate Alan King 11-07 Robert Thornton 2/1 f
2008 Franchoek J P McManus Alan King 11-07 Robert Thornton 10/11 f
2009 Walkon McNeill Racing Alan King 11-07 Robert Thornton 6/5 f
2010 Baccalaureate The Yes No Wait Sorries Nigel Twiston-Davies 11-00 Paddy Brennan 100/1
2011 Local Hero Phil Martin Steve Gollings 11-04 Tony McCoy 15/8 f
2012 Grumeti* The McNeill Family Alan King 11-04 Wayne Hutchinson 7/4 jf
2013 Rolling Star Michael Buckley & Vestey Family Nicky Henderson 11-07 Barry Geraghty 5/2
2014 Le Rocher John White & Anne Underhill Nick Williams 11-07 Richard Johnson 2/1
2015 Peace And Co Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson 11-07 Barry Geraghty 4/9 f
2016 Protek Des Flos Potensis Bloodstock Ltd Nicky Henderson 11-00 Noel Fehily 25/1
2017 Defi Du Seuil J P McManus Philip Hobbs 11-07 Barry Geraghty 1/5 f
2018 Apple’s Shakira J P McManus Nicky Henderson 10-12 Barry Geraghty 1/7 f
2019 Fakir D'Oudairies M L Bloodstock Joseph O’Brien IRE 11-00 J J Slevin 4/1
2020 Galahad Quest 4 11-0 Holt, Macnabb, Robinson & Jeffrey Nick Williams Harry Cobden 6/1
2022 Pied Piper 4 11-0 Caldwell Construction Ltd Gordon Elliott Davy Russell 11/8F