Victory in the final Graded juvenile hurdle before the Cheltenham Festival sees Alan King hold the home teams ace card in the Triumph Hurdle in the shape of Tritonic.
But while the Barbury Castle handler holds a strong hand in the Grade 1 four-year-old contest, he’s likely to be heading to Cheltenham with a smaller team than usual, despite a dozen horses holding entries.
Alan spoke to Tote to run through his likely representatives at the Festival, starting with his leading hope.
Entries: Triumph Hurdle
He’s in very good form, he had a canter this morning and looks terrific. We don’t have to do a great deal with him between now at the Triumph, just keep him fresh, maybe a couple of breezes and a few schools; he’s come out of Kempton very well. I think that run would have sharpened him up no end - I saw everything I needed to see there, now I’ve just got to keep him right.
I’ve trained him totally differently to most of my other Triumph Hurdle horses, as most of my other ones started much earlier; Katchit debuted over hurdles in September. This horse had a proper winter break and he was only really just ready to start back at Ascot, so hopefully there’s a lot more to come.
Son Of Red
Entries: Boodles Handicap Hurdle, Triumph Hurdle
He wouldn’t be certain to go to Cheltenham; he’s a possibility, but no more than that at the moment. I thought he ran alright at Kempton on Saturday; he’d probably just want the ground a little slower, he just got done for a bit of toe. He’s run well around Cheltenham before and was third there in December, I just need to discuss it with the owners.
Entries: Boodles Handicap, Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
I’d say she’s unlikely to go. She might go for the Boodles, but I’m looking at Stratford the day before. It was always the intention to go to Aintree for the Fillies Juvenile Hurdle with her, it was the ideal race for her. I would have run her before but we had a bit of a hold up the month beforehand, but I always wanted to support that race and she ran very well in it.
Entries: Champion Chase, Champion Hurdle
He came out of Newbury in top order, and did a bit of work at the weekend just gone. If the weather breaks and it came up soft we’d probably skip Cheltenham and wait for Aintree, but at the moment it’s all systems go towards the Champion Chase, but he is ground dependent. I shouldn’t have run him last year on the ground.
He is a better horse this year, but he’s always been a few pounds shy of the very best. I can see him running well, but I’d have my doubts as to whether he could beat Willie’s horse but we’ll just have to see.
Entries: Grand Annual
He won’t be guaranteed to get in regardless, but we’ll see how Doncaster goes first [on Saturday], but Cheltenham might come a bit quick.
Entries: County Hurdle
The plan is to go for the County. I was very happy with him in the Betfair, he ran a really good race, trying to give the front two the best part of a stone.
Entries: Mares Hurdle
I might run her. She had a good run in a jumpers bumper on the all-weather the other day which will have brought her on a bit. We might just go down the mares’ route with her again.
The Glancing Queen
Entries: Mares’ Hurdle, Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
I would think she’s almost certain to go for the Mares’ Novice. She did her first bit of work this morning since Exeter. I was happy enough with that run which came in terrible conditions and I don’t think there’s any disgrace to be beaten by the horse of Dan’s [Skelton]. She came out of the race fine and I’d like to think she’d run well. The Cheltenham hill suits her and I think we’ll be alright at two miles around there.
Although they hold entries at the Prestbury Park showpiece, King confirmed that he will be looking for options elsewhere for a number of his string.
On To Victory
We’re going to try and get him qualified for the novice handicap at Sandown on Bet365 Gold Cup day, so he will run over the Cheltenham period in a qualifier and then if that goes to plan, on to Sandown at the end April before going back on the flat.
He won’t go to Cheltenham. He obviously had his run the other day [at Kempton], and he’ll go from there straight to Aintree.
She goes to Doncaster on Saturday instead of Cheltenham.
I would be more inclined to hope he gets balloted out and can run in the consolation race at Kempton, to be honest, that’s the plan anyway!
He’s not ready for Cheltenham yet, I’ll find something a bit easier for him instead.
He runs in the Greatwood Gold Cup on Saturday at Newbury. He came back from a winter holiday in really good order. I want to go back to Aintree for the Topham with him, so we’re using this a prep for that.
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