Cheltenham tips: Ruby Walsh and Frank Hickey’s Triumph Hurdle antepost best bets

Ruby and Frank have run the rule over Friday's opening race.

Ruby Walsh & Frank Hickey

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Ruby Walsh and Frank Hickey have taken a look at the Triumph Hurdle ahead of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival – where Paddy Power is offering non-runner money back on all 28 races so there’s no risk of losing out if your pick withdraws.

Speaking on the fourth episode of our special Countdown To Cheltenham podcast, our main men discussed their top tips for glory in the opening race on the final day of the festival.

You can listen to the full show BELOW.

RUBY WALSH

There’s no doubt Gordon Elliott holds all the aces. I’m a huge ZANAHIYR fan and he’s the horse I would ride but I’m going to leave him on the betting front and say you should back QUILIXIOS because he has to run in this. If Zanahiyr comes out, Quilixios’ odds are going to be a hell of a lot shorter.

FRENCH ASEEL was entered in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival but Willie Mullins withdrew him at the last minute. He’s fit and well but it’ll be interesting to see if he takes to the change of yard.

Willie does have a few other runners. YOUMDOR was disappointing in the Spring Juvenile and ran way below form. He faded too far from home. SAINT SAM went a really good gallop, jumped really well and missed the second last. I thought he’d fold going to the final hurdle but he ran on to keep going behind Quilixios.

HAUT EN COULEURS won at Auteuil in October and is a fine-looking horse. But STATE MAN could possibly be kept back for next season as he’s a maiden over hurdles.

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FRANK HICKEY

TRITONIC is the one that could cause a little upset. He was handy on the flat coming second to Highland Chief in a 10f handicap at Royal Ascot and was second at listed level behind subsequent Grade 1 winner Subjectivist at Hamilton. I really liked his hurdles debut where he was jumping really well – bar a mistake when reaching for the last – and he showed a really nice attitude to run down the frontrunner Casa Loupi. Trainer Alan King also has a blinding record in this one. He won with Katchit and Penzance, while he also had Walkon and Franchoek finish second. Trintonic looks a real stayer and the test of stamina will be right up his street.

A nice horse that has been improving all season is ADAGIO. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes well but I just have a niggle that he isn’t up to the level of the Irish challengers. NASSALAM was just 2l behind Adagio in the Grade 1 Finale Hurdle and I can see them being closely matched in this.

Gordon Elliott has a number of intriguing runners and I don’t think it’s as straightforward as ZANAHIYR being a certainty. QUILIXIOS came off a three-month break to win the Spring Juvenile at Leopardstown and he ran 2m slightly faster than Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite Appreciate It managed in the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle but he was carrying 10lbs less. DUFFLE COAT is 4-4 and looks an out-and-out stayer but I’m really not sure he would uphold form on better ground.

Nicky Henderson has a brilliant record in the Triumph Hurdle but nothing he has run so far looks up to winning this. HEROSS DU SEUIL was very lucky to score at Kempton in December.

TRIUMPH HURDLE BET SUMMARY – FRIDAY, MARCH 19

Ruby Walsh – Quilixios

Frank Hickey – Tritonic

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