Pain Au Chocolat could prove too hot for his rivals
JCB Triumph Hurdle, 2m1f, New Course (due off 1.30pm)
Nicky Henderson has a strong hand and, if the betting can be believed, his Peace And Co has by far the best chance of his trio. He’s been favourite for this since a demolition job at Doncaster on his hurdles / British debut, when he had 19-lengths to spare over Fred Winter fourth Starchitect, and he cemented that position when following up with a comfortable success over useful yardstick Karezak at Cheltenham on Trials Day. That’s the best form on offer but he still has some questions to answer. Both his wins have come in small fields and, having refused to settle on both occasions, he burned off his rivals from the front. It’s assumed he will settle better in a big field but that’s no given and this big, scopey sort could be more of a long-term prospect. Top price: 5/2 bet365.
Who else is fancied?
His stablemate Hargam was cut in the betting after beating Starchitect by six lengths at Musselburgh last time, following up a previous one and a quarter length success over Karezak (not helped by a blunder at the last) at Cheltenham, and he’s now clear second favourite. That may have been an overreaction, though, and he probably owes his position in the market to his trainer, who has won the race five times. Still, having AP McCoy in the saddle and the likelihood of his preferred goodish ground, doesn’t harm his chances.
The Henderson third-string, Top Notch, is unbeaten in all five starts over hurdles, including a hat-trick for his current stable, and he was seriously impressive at Haydock last time. Faster ground is the big unknown, though. That comment also applies to Beltor, who forced his way into the picture when winning the Adonis Hurdle – a strong guide – hard held. All his best flat form was with plenty of cut in the ground and, what’s more, he has to prove he can do it on a flatter track and going left-handed.
Any decent outsiders?
Pepite Parisienne was Listed class on the flat and came good over hurdles last time when jumping well and staying on strongly to see off Kalkir in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown. That race has provided the last three triumph winners so she’s hugely respected in receipt of the 7lb mares’ allowance.
In addition to Karezak, Alan King runs Pain Au Chocolat and the form of his Plumpton win in January has been boosted by the second Devilment (a dual subsequent winner). A strong traveller, it was noticeable how well he quickened away at Sandown last time as that track has a similar uphill finish. A stronger pace and bigger field could see him step up again.
Trainer quote: “Pain Au Chocolat is a horse we like very much and he’s progressive. I genuinely don’t know how good he is and this is a big step up, but he’s always worked like a decent horse and he took Devilment apart around Plumpton. He’s run only on soft ground, but he’s worked well on goodish ground at home and I think he’ll be fine on that score.” – Alan King
Best bookie offer
Sky Bet are offering money back (as a free bet up to £25) if the favourite – almost certainly Peace And Co – wins the Triumph.
Peace And Co looks a favourite to take on at such short odds and the fact he takes such a large chunk out of the market serves to make an each-way bet even more attractive, with PAIN AU CHOCOLAT the value.
Selection – Pain Au Chocolat each-way @ 18/1 Sky Bet (money back on win part of bet of Peace And Co triumphs)