Saturday 26th January: Cheltenham 12:40 2m1f (2m179y) (New) JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2) (Registered As The Finesse) (Class 1) (4yo)
The Finesse Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle is the first race on the Trails Day card at Cheltenham. It is run on the New Course over a distance of 2 miles 1 furlong and the four year old field jump eight hurdles during the course of the race. It was first run in 1985 and winners of the race usually go on to compete in the Triumph Hurdle at The Festival in March which has been somewhat of a poisoned chalice as only Katchit in 2007 and Defi Du Seuil in 2017 have gone on to win both races.
The betting has been very influential when looking for a likely winner with eight of the last 12 winners going off as favourite or joint favourite. A further two winners could be found in the first three in the betting.
A recent run before the race is advantageous as 10 of the winners had their previous run within 49 days of the race. Nine of the last 12 winners of the race also won on their previous start.
Previous hurdling form is important as 10 of the previous winners had run at least twice and 10 of the 12 winners of the event had also won at least once over the smaller obstacles.
Not all of the horses who come into the race have an Official Rating due to the small number of events they may have previously competed in. However an Official Rating of 129 of higher has been required to win the race in five of the last 12 renewals (in the other seven, winners were unrated) and seven of the 12 winners had also previously won a Grade 1–3 race previously.
Torpillo is likely to start as favourite for the race. The Chestnut Gelding has won on all three of his starts to date over hurdles. He ran in a Class 2 event at Sandown on his last start on 9th January and won very easily, making all to win by 22 lengths. His trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies said to the Racing Post after the race, ” I don’t think soft ground is crucial to Torpillo, he has a high cruising speed but he doesn’t need a high cruising in that ground. He’s a little bit like Bristol (De Mai). He has got lots of pace, time will tell what he develops into in time. We never thought he was that great until we got him to a racecourse. He was quite buzzy, he probably does quite a lot early on. That’s why we put the headgear on him.”
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