No French-bred horse has won the Cheltenham Festival Triumph Hurdle since Soldatino in 2010, and some decent pokes have tried, but the punters are steaming into a few likely types from across the English Channel ahead of this March’s renewal.
Owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede have two of the first three in the betting for the prestigious 2m1f event, all of whom are French imports, in 5/2 clear jolly Peace And Co and 8/1 shot Bristol De Mai.
They’re inmates of top trainers Nicky Henderson and Nigel Twiston-Davies respectively, and both were handy victors on debut under Daryl Jacob in recent weeks at Doncaster and Chepstow, with the first winning by a whopping 19l in a six-runner field.
It’s difficult to say whether either horse faced any decent challengers in those races though, whereas we can be fairly sure Willie Mullins’ 8/1 Triumph shot Kalkir has had a tough test.
Kalkir snapped back a few points in the betting from 5/1 following a two-length loss to Fiscal Focus at Leopardstown over Christmas, but the victor that day may prove to be a very useful sort indeed.
Desmond McDonogh’s 33/1 winner was going over obstacles for the first time having been inconsistent on the flat for crack Irish handler Jim Bolger (whose wife owns the horse), but he did get within two-and-a-half lengths of Aidan O’Brien’s Adelaide on the Galileo colt’s debut a year ago.
Adelaide went on to win Group Ones in America and Australia last summer, after a useful three-year-old season closer to home, when he was a beaten favourite in second behind Eagle Top in Royal Ascot’s Group Two King Edward VII Stakes.
That’s a pretty sturdy line of form for Kalkir backers to cling on to, which is strengthened further by the fact that Ruby Walsh will likely replace Paul Townend at Cheltenham, where Mullins’ horses tend to excel.
A blot on the copybook or two isn’t such a bad look in the Triumph, with two of the last three winners of the event beaten in their immediately previous outing
As for Fiscal Focus, it might be a tad early to steam into his 14/1 odds after an in-and-out Flat career, but certainly keep an eye on this Bolger animal.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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