Royal Irish Hussar A Triumph Hurdle Beauty At Ladbroke's 16-1

Nicky Henderson's Royal Irish Hussar spreadeagled a decent field of juveniles recently to spur racing tipster Alan Kelly to open his Cheltenham Festival ante-post portfolio

Having been mightily impressed with the performance of the Nicky Henderson-trained Royal Irish Hussar at Wetherby earlier this month when the son of Galileo made most of the running to spreadeagle a decent field of juvenile hurdlers the initial offer of 33-1 by Bet365 for the 2014 Triumph Hurdle was too good to resist, thereby opening up my ante-post portfolio on next year’s Cheltenham Festival.

The Seven Barrows handler has landed the contest open to 4-year-old’s twice in the last five years and is always the man to beat in the race won by the impressive Our Conor this year with Henderson’s 5-2 favourite Rolling Star a disappointing sixth, while the stable’s Vasco Du Ronceray finished one place higher in fifth. That horse finished second behind subsequent Triumph Hurdle runner-up Far West in Cheltenham’s JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial last November and that Grade 2 contest was chosen as the next step towards the Festival for Royal Irish Hussar and the colt did not disappoint coming home three and three quarter lengths clear of Irish raider Guitar Pete after once again making most of the running, jumping well for Barry Geraghty.

Lightly raced on the Flat when trained by Aidan O’Brien with an official rating of 99, Royal Irish Hussar was sent to Henderson with a hurdling campaign in mind, of which the trainer said in an interview with Racing UK: ” He’s not very big, but he’s amazed me from the word go. This was all Aidan O’Brien’s idea but when he arrived I thought he was a lovely person but not very big for a jumper.”

The horse is now likely to have a bit of a break with Kempton’s Adonis Hurdle on February 22nd a possible Cheltenham prep. Another good run there would probably see Royal Irish Hussar harden further as Triumph Hurdle favourite and now would be a good time to take the 16/1 on offer at Ladbrokes, a full four points better than available elsewhere.