Unusually for a Triumph Hurdle, we’ve only got a field of nine declared for this renewal and there must be a bet given we can rule out four of them with fair confidence.
Apple’s Shakira flies the flag for England and she’s oh-so short in the betting at a shade under 2/1.
She has given everything she’s raced a fair beating so far, though, and is proven over track, trip and the ground.
I’m simply not convinced she’s been running in races as hot as the Irish challenge has been – almost everything we’ve seen this week has gone their way, and that’s more than enough justification to take her on.
If it had been good ground I would have loved to back ex-flat horse Redicean in this race, after he showed a stunning turn of foot to win the Adonis at Kempton on good ground.
His speed on the flat track and good ground was extremely impressive, however I’ve major doubts about whether he can reproduce that at a soggy Cheltenham against Irish mudlarks.
The Irish only had a couple of runners in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle and won it with Veneer Of Charm, and their best juveniles are often overpriced in the Triumph.
Mr Adjudicator narrowly beat FARCLAS in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown last month, and winners or beaten horses from that race seem to always hit the frame in this.
The latter is trained by man of the moment Gordon Elliott, who rates him his best chance of the day and expects improvement from that run.
That alone is enough for me with the form he’s in, and the winning margin was so narrow that a reversal seems entirely likely.
Interestingly, before Ruby Walsh was stood down for the festival he had selected STORMY IRELAND as his Triumph horse from the Mullins yard, and Noel Fehily takes over the ride.
To get off Mr Adjudicator and his Grade 1 form to get onto a twice raced maiden winner seems some tip towards her ability, and she hasn’t been missed in the market at 8/1.
There’s no real collateral form evidence to rate that maiden win by but the 58-length winning margin and faultless display kind of makes it obvious: it looked very classy.
She, like Farclas, is proven on the ground and they both look to have very live chances in a race that’s far more competitive than the betting suggests.
1pt win Stormy Ireland @8/1, 13:30 Cheltenham, Friday (various)
1pt win Farclas @8/1, 13:30 Cheltenham, Friday (various)
*prices updated and taken at 10:53 Friday 16th