Gold Cup Day at the Cheltenham Festival is a date that National Hunt racing fans mark with a huge ‘X’ on their calendar each and every year.
But with the prestigious Prestbury Park meeting once again on the horizon, this year’s Festival has an extra-special feel about it as racegoers will make their way back through the gates in their tens of thousands for the first time in two years.
In fact, this year’s final day sold out in record time, with no tickets left in the box office from as early as January for the first time ever!
While the Gold Cup will of course be the main attraction, there are plenty of races to whet the appetite of the packed-out stands and keep them entertained until the 3:30 showpiece — starting with the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle.
The opening race of day four, the two-mile, one-furlong contest is the biggest race of the season for four-year-old hurdlers and has been won by some future stars in the past — including Tiger Roll and several Champion Hurdle winners, like Clair Soleil and Persian War.
So, with potential stars in the making, let’s take a look at the favorites in the horse racing betting markets for the Triumph Hurdle…
Controversial trainer Gordon Elliott, who missed last year’s Cheltenham Festival through suspension, will be hoping that Pied Piper can land him his third career victory in the Triumph Hurdle.
The joint-favorite to win the £75,965 prize pot, the four-year-old, who was previously a flat horse owned by Her Majesty the Queen and trained by John Gosden, made the switch to jumps racing in October and is two for two over obstacles — winning a Maiden Hurdle at Punchestown and the Grade 2 Triumph Trail at Cheltenham last month.
He may no longer be owned by the Queen, but we’re sure she’ll still have her eye on him at Prestbury Park if she is back in attendance for Gold Cup Day.
Everybody loves a hotly-contested race between horses from Elliott’s and Willie Mullins’ yards and that’s exactly what we are going to get in the Triumph Hurdle.
After two wins from four flat outings in France for Philippe Decouz over the summer, the four-year-old made the switch to Mullins’ Closutton stables in December but was narrowly beaten by Pied Piper on his debut in that aforementioned Maiden Hurdle.
However, he appears to have come on leaps and bounds since then, beating Fil Dor by three lengths in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the recent Dublin Racing Festival — which was enough to see him join his old rival at the fore of the ante-post market.
Speaking of Fil Dor, he’s next in line in the Triumph Hurdle market — albeit someway behind Pied Piper and Vauban at around 6/1. After just one flat race in France, the four-year-old moved to Elliott’s yard in August and has had a fantastic juvenile season so far this year.
In fact, prior to being beaten by Vauban at Leopardstown earlier this month, Fil Dor had won all three of his races — including two at Grade level, beating Lunar Power in Grade 3 and Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdles.
Finishing three lengths behind Vauban did him no favors in the Triumph Hurdle market, but don’t rule him out!