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Diakali was a mover in the ante-post market for the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on March 15 despite not pleasing all observers on the way to an easy victory in the Grade 3 Visit Punchestown.com For All Our Offers Juvenile Hurdle, writes Elliot Slater.
Bred by the Aga Khan and trained in France by Alain de Royer-Dupre, Diakali failed to win in four starts on the level but ran some sound races in decent company, sound enough to see him sold for a hefty 160,000 guineas to Willie Mullins at the Arqana Horses-in-Training sales in July of last year.
The gelded son of Epsom and Irish Derby winner Sinndar made a pleasing debut over hurdles at Gowran Park in November where despite racing freely he easily accounted for his rivals to run out an impressive 12-length scorer under Paul Townend from Crouching Harry. On the basis of that effort Diakali was expected to go well at Punchestown in the Grade 3 race, his task though was made far easier by the withdrawal of his stable companion Dogora, leaving the grey with just three rivals to beat.
There was some concern for those Betfair punters who stepped in to back the favourite at odds of 1/2, as although he made all the running he refused to settle and produced a couple of erratic leaps in the first half of the contest but still had enough left in the locker to slam Flaxen Flare by a whopping 28 lengths.
There is little doubt that Diakali has plenty of ability but in a big field at Championship level both his temperament and hurdling will be tested to the limit.
Betfair Cheltenham markets have seen the four-year-old cut to a top-priced 14/1 for the Triumph Hurdle from 20/1, a race he may tackle without the benefit of any further racecourse experience.
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