Solo solid in Triumph Hurdle market
Recent editions of Kempton’s Adonis Juvenile Hurdle have failed to provide many Triumph Hurdle clues, but Solo put himself firmly in the picture for Cheltenham with a striking success on his British debut on Saturday, beating the useful Fujimoto Flyer by 13 lengths.
That form is on a par with what any of his chief rivals in this division have achieved, not to mention the best seen in this race since the turn of the century, bettering even that shown by subsequent Triumph winner Zarkandar (who was also trained by Paul Nicholls) in 2011.
It’s worth noting that Solo won’t be allowed to dominate at Cheltenham as he did at Kempton, especially with the likes of Goshen, Aspire Tower and Allmankind in opposition, all of whom have forced the pace in their races over hurdles.
Nevertheless, Solo’s supporters can take comfort from the fact he is a different type to that trio, a horse bred for jumping who looked very straightforward here.
Get clued into the handicaps at Cheltenham
With just two weeks to go from Tuesday until the Festival, Saturday represented one of the last chances for trainers to get a run into their Cheltenham hopefuls. It also gave several runners the opportunity to book their tickets after slightly underwhelming campaigns thus far, one that Downtown Getaway and Mister Malarky took with both hands.
The former is now as short as 10/1 for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle after showing the benefit of a wind operation to win, while Mister Malarky proved better than ever after a nine-week break to land the feature handicap chase, a performance that saw him receive quotes of 12/1 for the Ultima Handicap Chase on the Tuesday.
Also quoted at 12/1 with Paddy Power for that race is Who Dares Wins after his success in the Pendil Novices’ Chase. Who Dares Wins – last year’s Northumberland Plate winner on the Flat – seemed to benefit from cheekpieces being reapplied and produced much his best effort to date over fences, showing a willing attitude to beat Southfield Stone by three-quarters of a length.
Alan King’s charge already has previous Festival form to call upon – he was third in the Coral Cup in 2017 and fifth in the Pertemps Final in 2018 – and the handicap route makes much more sense than tackling one of the graded novices at this year’s meeting.
Elliott hoping Work can pay off in Gold Cup
Away from the racecourse, there were plenty of interesting soundbites to come out of the various Cheltenham press days in Britain and Ireland last week, with Gordon Elliott’s confidence in Gold Cup contender Delta Work certainly worth revisiting.
“I think Delta Work is made for the Gold Cup,” the trainer said at his Cullentra base. “His style of racing will suit and so will the trip. We are lucky to have these good horses that people like talking about, but he probably gets forgotten about a bit. I don’t think he has done too much wrong over the last couple of seasons. He has won five Grade 1s and is a great little horse – we are lucky to have him.”
Delta Work is still available at 5/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but it would be no surprise to see him challenging the likes of Al Boum Photo for favouritism on the day, especially if Elliott enjoys his usual success on the first three days of the Festival.
Don’t say you weren’t warned…