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Narrow the Field: The 9/1 form horse who can Triumph in Friday’s opener

The only racing column that does all the work for you. Well most of it anyway ...

by Sean Goff | March 12, 2015

It’s the final day of the Festival as we look to freewheel into the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

We’ve crunched the stats, given one or two the benefit of the doubt on the ground and gone for a bit of value as the curtain comes down on Cheltenham 2015.

Remember, inside the sweet spot is all good – outside is still good but just needs to get its act together a bit more. We’re thinking John Inverdale here.

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The first race of the last day of the Festival and trainer Nicky Henderson seems to have the monopoly with Peace and Co, Hargam and Top Notch.

Fred Winter fourth Starchitect ties in the form of Peace and Co and Hargam having been beaten 19l at Doncaster by P&C and six lengths at Musselburgh by JP McManus’s runner – though the winning margin at Donnie may have been exaggerated when P&C had flown.

Although the Triumph has been a good race for market leaders – just Countrywide Flame at 33/1 in 2012 was outside the top four market leaders in the past 10 years– you have to go back to Detroit City (7/2f) in 2006 to find the last winning favourite.

Five-time winner this season Top Notch has been steadily moving through the gears in winnable contests and we’d have a better idea about his chance if the horse he beat at Ascot, Golden Doyen, hadn’t tipped up four from home in the Fred Winter on Wednesday.

Form to follow

But the form to follow is the Grade One Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown that was won by Petite Parisienne this season.

The last three Triumph Hurdle winners all ran there with Tiger Roll and Our Conor winning it, while Countrywide Flame was third there to Hisaabaat before reversing the form at Cheltenham. Even 2011 victor Unaccompanied went on to finish second to Zarkandar at the Festival.


Petit Parisienne was beaten on her Irish debut at Punchestown before being thrown in at the deep end at the Dublin track beating stablemate Kalkir with Prussian Eagle back in third which also acts as a pointer to stable-mate Dicosimo – to be ridden by Ruby Walsh – who he walloped by eight lengths at Gowran Park.

The proximity of the third-placed horse may have raised a few eyebrows but it was only Petit Parisienne’s second start over hurdles and she’s gets 7lb from Friday’s rivals.

Selection: Petit Parisienne @ 9/1

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A lung-busting 3m test for the novices that sees a strong Irish challenge at the top of the market.

Blaklion is a 3m course winner over hurdles while Haydock Trial winner Defintly Red has been on the upgrade all season since getting his head in front in a Listed Flat race at the track last November.

Caracci Apache appreciated the step up to 3m at Doncaster where he chinned Blaklion by a head with the benefit of the running rail. Stablemate Out Sam’s Newbury win last November from Thomas Brown and TeaforTwo reads better for their subsequent wins  while it’s possible there could have been an over reaction to Value of Risk’s defeat at the track last time out.

Of the Irish challenge Black Hurcules was a Grade 3 winner in heavy ground at Cork in December but hasn’t been seen since and the key could be the Grade 2 Novice Hurdle over 2m5 that was won by Outlander at Leopardstown at the end of January.

Fourth-placed Windsor Park came out and won the Neptune Novice Hurdle on Wednesday but Martello Tower finished ahead of him that while No More Heroes was fifth and both are expected to be suited by the step up to three miles.

Selection: Defintly Red @ 16/1

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