Some vital Cheltenham Festival clues could emerge from Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham on Saturday afternoon and none more so than in the opening race at 12:05, which sees the current ante-post favourite for the Triumph Hurdle lock horns with the second favourite in what should be a thrilling curtain-raiser.
James Owen’s Royal Ascot winner Burdett Road has been imperious since his switch to hurdles and he will be taking on Nicky Henderson’s Sir Gino, who has also looked a top-notch juvenile. The pair do battle in the Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle trial tomorrow afternoon.
Not since 2017, when the Philip Hobbs-trained Defi Su Seuil stormed to victory in the Triumph Hurdle Trial on Trials Day, has a horse returned and claimed Triumph Hurdle glory on day four of the Cheltenham Festival, but both Burdett Road and Sir Gino have already shown smart form on the track and have looked every bit a leading contender in the juvenile division this season.
With the Irish challenge appearing to lack significant strength in depth, the UK-based trainers will fancy their chances and in fledgling trainer Owen, who acquired Burdett Road off Michael Bell after his Royal Ascot win, there could be a premier home challenger. A facile winner on hurdling debut at Huntingdon, he then serenely scythed through his rivals to claim victory in a Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle trial at Cheltenham in November and he is sure to continue his improvement over timber.
A Listed hurdle winner in France, Sir Gino then switched allegiances to Henderson’s Seven Barrows yard and he couldn’t have been more impressive on his UK debut when storming to a 14-length victory at Kempton during their Christmas festival. He may not have beaten much that day, but the class he showed in that race suggested he could be significantly better than average and he will put his credentials on the line at the weekend.
At the time of writing, Burdett Road is the current 4/1 market leader for the Triumph Hurdle on March 15, while Sir Gino is a couple of points bigger at 6/1, but tomorrow’s contest is sure to see those prices fluctuate and the winner is more than likely going to solidify their position at the top of the betting for the first race on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival.
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