A select field of eight runners are schedule to contest this year’s renewal of this Triumph Hurdle Trial. Won by the likes of Pied Piper, Fakir D’Oudairies, Defi Du Seuil and Katchit in the past, this race often points you towards future Festival winners.
It usually takes a little over four minutes to run and eight of the last ten previous winners were successful on their previous start. Only twice in the last ten years have horses made a winning seasonal reappearance here so it often pays to side with those who are fully race fit. Below are the contenders and I have assessed their chances ahead of Saturdays race. Predicted SPs correct at time of publication.
Out of their comfort zone?
COMFORT ZONE is trained by Joseph O’Brien and comes here on the back of landing the Grade 2 Coral Juvenile at Chepstow last month. He had only a neck to spare over the proven listed class winner in Dixon Cove and he has to warrant serious consideration here. Already proven at this level, the son of Churchill has to carry a five-pound penalty into this race. Likely to have been well schooled at home since, he is taken to make another significant impact here today and retains the partnership with Jonjo O’Neill Jr.
MOMBASA is trained by Philip Hobbs. He was beaten seventeen lengths in a much lower grade last time. He is expected to improve but it would be asking a lot for him to surpass what the likes of Dixon Cove, Scriptwriter and Comfort Zone have achieved. The yard won this with Defi Du Seuil back in 2017, but it would take a monumental leap of faith to think that Mombasa could do the same. The yard are woefully out of form (0/38) and best to look elsewhere.
SCRIPTWRITER is trained by Milton Harris. He has been mixing it over both codes of late supplementing to hurdles wins with a win on the flat at Wolverhampton just last month. He is the type of horse who wears his heart on his sleeve and the yard have been in great form all winter. A Grade 2 course and distance win put him right amongst the best of these and this battle hardened warrior will let the others know they have had a race. Paddy Brennan is undefeated on him and the pair look sure to be involved here.
ACTIVE DUTY is trained by Ben Pauling. Still a maiden across both codes but he was a fair third on his hurdling bow at Exeter just three weeks ago. He would need to improve in leaps and bounds to trouble the best of these and he is best watched this afternoon. He would have a more realistic chance in a lesser grade than this.
FILS DE ROI is trained by Fergal O’Brien and looked like an up and coming type at the end of last season when winning on his hurdling debut at Huntingdon. Put away for the summer, he ran too free in the race won by Comfort Zone at Chepstow just after Christmas. He succumbed in the closing stages and ultimately fell at the last when fading. He will need to improve significantly to get involved.
JUPITER DU GITE is trained by Gary Moore and caused somewhat of an upset on debut at Newbury. He won as handily as he liked turning over some well fancied rivals in his wake including Klitschko and Inneston. It is slightly disappointing that nothing has come out to frank the form since, but all he could do was win in the style that he did. Open to any amount of improvement and if taking to the course has a squeak.
DIXON COVE is trained by Paul Nicholls and bids to turn around recent Chepstow form with Comfort Zone. She is three-pounds better off with that rival having been beaten only a neck, so she has to have every chance. Remarkably Paul Nicholls has not won this race at any point in the last two decades despite numerous attempts. The filly is here on merit and despite her handlers’ dreadful record in this race, she has to warrant consideration here.
NAEVA is now trained by Alexandra Dunn and makes her British debut this afternoon. She did run a few weeks ago in a claimer at Cagnes Sur Mer. Thrown in at the deep end here she has plenty of questions to answer and there will be more suitable opportunities for her in the future.
Predicted starting prices
9/4 Comfort Zone, 5/2 Jupiter Du Gite , 7/2 Scriptwriter , 7/2 Dixon Cove , 20/1 Fils De Roi , 25/1 Mombasa , 33/1 Active Duty , 50/1 Naeva
JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle betting tips
SCRIPTWRITER could well prove the answer here given that he is at least proven at the track and over the trip. Milton Harris has kept him in good form all winter and a win in a competitive handicap on the flat at Wolverhampton earlier in the month means he comes he in peak fitness. Dixon Cove is taken to reverse recent form with a penalised Comfort Zone whilst the ability of Jupiter De Gite to handle this uphill finish has to be taken on trust.
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