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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

McManus holds the key with three leading contenders

Defi Du Seuil: Philip Hobbs-trained juvenile leads the market for the Triumph
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1.30 Cheltenham
JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) | 2m179y, 4yo | ITV/RUK

JP McManus celebrated success in this juvenile contest with Ivanovich Gorbatov last year and appears to hold the key again with Defi Du Seuil and Charli Parcs heading the market.

Defi Du Seuil puts his unbeaten hurdling record on the line following five victories in the winter, most recently winning the Triumph trial at Cheltenham in January.

Charli Parcs will have to bounce back from falling in the Adonis at Kempton last month, a race won by Master Blueyes who will be suited by the drying ground.

It would be brave to discount McManus's other runner Landofhopeandglory, who is another to appreciate a sound surface, while Mega Fortune brings Grade 1-winning form with success over Bapaume in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown last month. 

Home challenge fares well
Since the turn of the millennium, 11 of the 16 winners of the race have been trained in Britain, four from Ireland and one from France.

Mullins' bogey race
Willie Mullins has saddled 18 runners in this race without success since Scolardy’s victory in 2002. He bids to end the trend with Bapaume and Dandy Mag.

Head of the market
Eight of the last ten winners have been returned at a single-figure price, with favourites obliging in the last two renewals.

What they say

Willie Mullins, trainer of Bapaume and Dandy Mag
See column

Nicky Henderson, trainer of Charli Parcs and Soldier In Action
Charli Parcs has been in excellent form since Kempton and showed no ill-effects from his fall – he’s schooled very well. The better ground will help him. I was pleased with Soldier In Action at Doncaster, he’s got plenty of ability and we’ve got a nice pair of horses to run in the race.

Alan King, trainer of Master Blueyes and Coeur De Lion
Master Blueyes has been improving rapidly and he’s come out of Kempton very well. He’d be best suited by better ground, while any rain would better suit Coeur De Lion, who’s tough, improved with every run and gets the trip really well. The favourite Defi Du Seuil sets a high standard and he reminds me of Katchit as he keeps doing it, but hopefully we can have his measure.

Philip Hobbs, trainer of Defi Du Seuil
He seems in very good form and is the highest-rated horse in the race so you’d have to hope he’ll run very well. The better ground would be an unknown but I don’t see why it won’t suit him.

Seamus Mullins, trainer of I See You Well and Landin
They have slim chances but it will be interesting to see Landin on better ground as he should improve for it, but it's the opposite with I See You Well, who likes softer ground.

Joseph O’Brien, trainer of Landofhopeandglory
He's travelled over well and settled in nicely. He looks great. I’m hoping he'll run well and he has some good form from earlier in the season.

Evan Williams, trainer of Evening Hush
I can’t pretend I don’t love her! I think the world of her and she deserves to run in a Grade 1 rather than contesting the mares’ novice. She’s among the top four juveniles in Britain on her form. The ground is a slight unknown as to what would suit her best; we’ll just have to see how she handles it.

David Pipe, trainer of Magie Du Ma
She’s a nice mare and has good form in France. She had a hold up in her preparation so we couldn’t get a run into her – it’s not ideal to be heading straight to the Triumph but we’ll see how she goes.

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Charli Parcs has been in excellent form since Kempton and showed no ill effects from his fall - he’s schooled very well
E.W. Terms
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