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 Cheltenham Triumph Hurdle

The Cheltenham Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham photo by Kate TannThe Cheltenham Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham photo by Kate Tann

The Cheltenham Triumph Hurdle 2024 is a 2m 1f prestigious Grade 1 National Hunt race held annually at the Cheltenham Festival and is run at a a pace that is never less than fast and furious.

It's a breeding ground for future champions, showcasing the brightest four-year-old novice hurdlers.

Here's a deep dive into its history, notable winners, and the talented figures behind them:

From Humble Beginnings to Festival Glory (1939-1968):

  • 1939: The race debuted at Hurst Park in Surrey, with Grey Talk, ridden by Serge Rochet and trained by George Batchelor, claiming the first victory. Interestingly, the early years saw dominance from French-trained horses, with six of the first seven winners hailing from France.
  • Wartime Disruption: The race wasn't held throughout the 1940s due to World War II.
  • Lester Piggott's Touch (1954): Flat racing legend Lester Piggott added a touch of glamour to the race in 1954, winning aboard Early Mist.
  • Hurst Park's Closure (1962): With the closure of Hurst Park in 1962, the Triumph Hurdle went on a two-year hiatus.

Finding its Permanent Home: The Cheltenham Era (1965-Present):

  • 1965: The race found its new home at Cheltenham, initially held during the April meeting.
  • Festival Integration (1968): In 1968, the Triumph Hurdle became a permanent fixture of the prestigious Cheltenham Festival, adding to the electric atmosphere.
  • Sponsorship Shifts: The race has seen various sponsors over the years, including the Daily Express, the Elite Racing Club, and currently, JCB.

Leading Nicky HendersonLeading Nicky Henderson

Notable Winners, Owners, Trainers, and Jockeys:

The Triumph Hurdle trophy cabinet boasts some legendary names:

Horses: Clair Soleil (1962): One of the elite few to win both the Triumph Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle.

Persian War (1973): Another dual Champion Hurdle and Triumph Hurdle victor.

Kribensis (1990): Joined the exclusive club of double winners.

Katchit (2014): The most recent horse to achieve the Triumph Hurdle-Champion Hurdle double. Notably, Katchit's win surprised even his trainer as he was sent off at 10 5th favourite. But his terrier-like persistence finally won him the prize.

Trainers: Nicky Henderson is the most successful trainer in the race's history, with a record six wins: First Bout (1985), Alone Success (1987), Katarino (1999), Zaynar (2009), Soldatino (2010), Peace And Co (2015).

Notable mentions include Arthur Moore and David Pipe W P Mullins.

Jockeys: The list of winning jockeys is a who's who of National Hunt legends, including Barry Geraghty who has been on board the winner on 5 occasions: Spectroscope (2003), Zaynar (2009), Soldatino (2010), Peace And Co (2015), Ivanovich Gorbatov (2016) 

Ruby Walsh, John Francome, and Paul Townend have all been successful in the Cheltenham Triumph Hurdle.

The first 3 in the ante post market for the 2024 renewal are:

Sir Gino 1/1 - Nicky Henderson

Majborough 6/1 - W P Mullins

Kargese 7/1 - W P Mullins

Sir Gino is a course and distance winner, is unbeaten in three starts and being in the care of the most successful trainer will be hard to beat.

The talented bay gelding trained by Nicky Henderson, boasts a promising young career in hurdling:

French Beginnings (2020): Born in April 2020, Sir Gino began his racing journey in France.

Early Success (2023): At just three years old, he secured his first victory at Auteuil Racecourse in France. The Prix Wild Monarch (Poulains) (Hurdle) (Listed Race) (3yo Colts & Geldings Unraced Over Obstacles)(3yo) 1m7f on Heavy ground.

UK Arrival (Late 2023): Sir Gino moved to Nicky Henderson's Seven Barrows yard in England in late 2023.

Dominant Start (December 2023): He wasted no time impressing in the UK, winning his first hurdle race at Kempton, the To Win Free Music Tickets "Introductory" Juvenile Hurdle (GBB Race)(Class 2) (3yo) 2m on Good To Soft. 

Recent Victory (January 2024): Sir Gino continued his winning streak at Cheltenham in January, solidifying his potential. This was the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2) (Registered As The Finesse) (GBB Race)(Class 1) (4yo) (2m179yds) 2m1f on  Good To Soft. 

However Willie Mullins is the Champion trainer at the Cheltenham Festival so his two runners should not be discounted lightly.

So can Willie Mullins throw in a curve ball? On the face of  it Majborough started his career in a similar way to Sir Gino by winning the Prix Grandak (Hurdle) (Conditions) (3yo Colts & Geldings Unraced Over Obstacles) (Turf)(3yo) 1m7f on Very Soft on 2nd April 2023.

However his second race at Leopardstown on 3rd February 2024 in the McCann FitzGerald Spring Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1)(4yo) 2m on Soft ground was a trifle lacklustre, albeit it was his first run of the new season.

Kargese on the other hand has a little more experience under his belt albeit over in his native France where he won 2 of the first 3 races of his career at Auteuil. This concluded with a win in the Prix Sagan (Hurdle) (Grade 3) (3yo Fillies) (Turf)(3yo) (2m1f110yds) 2m1½f on Very Soft.

Transferring to the Mullins yard later in 2023 he began the new season of 2024 with a 2nd place to Gordon Elliott's Kala Conti in the Mercedes-Benz South Dublin Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2)(3yo) 2m Yielding at Leopardstown, going down by 3/4 length.

This was followed with his most recent run of the campaign at Leopardstown where he beat the 9/4 favourite, stablemate Storm Heart, in the McCann FitzGerald Spring Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1)(4yo) 2m Soft. 

Horse on the skylineHorse on the skyline

Cheltenham Triumph Hurdle Summary

The frontrunners for the 2024 Triumph Hurdle are:

  1. Sir Gino (1/1): Trained by Nicky Henderson, Sir Gino is undefeated in three starts, including a recent win at Cheltenham.
  2. Majborough (6/1): Trained by Willie Mullins, Majborough started his career similarly to Sir Gino but had a less impressive recent run.
  3. Kargese (7/1): Another Willie Mullins trainee, Kargese has some experience and a recent win at Leopardstown.

While Sir Gino is the favorite due to his record and trainer, Willie Mullins' horses shouldn't be ignored. Majborough has potential, and Kargese has experience and a recent victory.

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