The JCB Triumph Hurdle has greatly improved as a race since the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle was introduced to the Festival in 2005. The top class 4 year old hurdlers race here and then the Fred Winter is for those that aren't quite good enough for a Grade 1.
Peace And Co won this last year for Nicky Henderson. It was quite a remarkable race for Mr Henderson as he had the first three home. Nicky Henderson's main hope of winning this for the second year running maybe lies with Fixe Le Kap but you'll have to put a line through his last run where he was beaten at 1/4.
Paul Nicholls looks to have an extremely exciting juvenile on his hands here. Zubayr stood out like a sore thumb when winning the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton on his first start in the UK. He was held up off the pace and was dead last on the approach to three out before making eye-catching headway to win doing handstands. There should be plenty of improvement to come and this gives him a massive chance to complete an Adonis / Triumph Hurdle double just like Zarkandar did for Paul Nicholls back in 2011. Paul Nicholls has said that this horse has only came alive for him over the last few weeks so to win the way he did is some performance. Nick Schofield said that this horse has stamina in abundance so the faster they go the better.
Rated 103 on the flat - this horse looked like a superstar when winning on his hurdling debut at Leopardstown in December. He was all the rage for this race on the back of that performance but then returned to the same track in February and flopped badly. His hurdling was poor and he finished 4th of 8. The fact that this horse has been well supported on the back of that race suggests that he is very highly rated at home and there is evidence to suggest that Ivanovich Gorbatov will improve for better ground. A big contender for this race if his jumping holds up.
This is the shortest price of Alan King's entries having won four of his five starts since moving to Britain. His only loss came against Leoncavallo at Wetherby but Sceau Royal then gained revenge on that horse at this course in December. There wasn't much between Sceau Royal and Leoncavallo when John Ferguson's horse smashed into the final hurdle and fell in that race but I will say that Sceau Royal was definitely travelling the best. Sceau Royal is around 6/1 whilst Leoncavallo is a 33/1 outsider. Make of that what you wish.
John Ferguson's horse deserves a mention here in my opinion. Leoncavallo was very average on the flat but has been a revelation since switching the hurdles. He beat Sceau Royal fair and square at Wetherby in October. Sceau Royal seemed to be travelling all over Leoncavallo approaching two out and I'd even argue that Sceau Royal jumped that hurdle much the best. Sceau Royal was again better over the last but Leoncavallo is tough, genuine and gives his all. Leoncavallo battled back and beat Sceau Royal by a nose. It was almost the exact same scenario at Cheltenham in December but this time Leoncavallo didn't jumped an inch at the last and took a thunderous fall. There might be a bit of value in the 33/1 on offer for this horse.