Mr Adjudicator has final say as the favourite Espoir D'Allen disappoints
Mr Adjudicator put himself forward as a major player for next month’s JCB Triumph Hurdle with a battling success in this well-contested Grade 1, and is now short as 7-1 for Cheltenham from 16-1, behind 3-1 favourite Apple’s Shakira.
This was arguably the best juvenile hurdle run this season with the unbeaten Espoir D’Allen sent off favourite to beat this horse and the Gordon Elliott-trained Farclas.
The favourite faded disappointingly to allow the two once-raced juveniles to battle it out, and what a nip and tuck battle it proved from the run to the final flight.
In the end it was Mr Adjudicator who came out on top with Farclas having to settle for second spot once more having chased home Espoir D’Allen here at Christmas.
Willie Mullins has a very strong hand among the juveniles, not only with this horse but with the filly Stormy Ireland.
Mullins clearly likes Mr Adjudicator and said: “I think this is a good horse and Paul Townend gave him a fantastic ride.
“We didn’t expect there to be a lot of pace in the race – I told Paul to get him dropped in and he did that lovely.
“Paul wasn’t entirely sure he was travelling and didn’t want to give him a squeeze too early. He met the last spot-on and we probably just outstayed Farclas – he has that bit of stamina on the dam’s side.”
He added: “I suppose we’ll go straight to the Triumph Hurdle now and then maybe back to France for the French equivalent later on.”
Gordon Elliott was delighted with the run of Farclas and will surely be looking forward to taking on Mr Adjudicator again next month.
The trainer said: “He ran a blinder and Jack Kennedy thought he was still a bit green. He’s a grand horse.”
Espoir D’Allen was a bit keen in front but the way he dropped out to finish fourth, beaten more than 22 lengths, was way below his best.
“He was very disappointing and there seemed to be no real reason for it. He was a bit keen through the race but I wouldn’t blame that,” said rider Barry Geraghty.