Irish challenger Aspire Tower to take on Solo in hot Triumph renewal

Paul Nicholls-trained juvenile’s recent Kempton success reveals stamina and speed

Despite Aspire Tower’s final-flight fall at the Dublin Racing Festival, he may be well placed to take on the impressive Solo in the Triumph Hurdle. Photograph: Inpho

Despite Aspire Tower’s final-flight fall at the Dublin Racing Festival, he may be well placed to take on the impressive Solo in the Triumph Hurdle. Photograph: Inpho

 

No horse has more depending on fortune at Cheltenham on Friday 13th than JCB Triumph Hurdle favourite Solo.

The Paul Nicholls-trained juvenile is a jump racing rarity in being still in possession of the two things most males in every species hold dear.

Connections have indicated a gelding operation during the summer could relieve Solo of them although also holding out the option of him enjoying a future career at stud once he’s finished racing.

Apparently, Solo is perfect in the looks and temperament department and his sole start for Nicholls last month at Kempton indicated he also possess quite the engine.

In the circumstances a Grade One victory in the four-year-old championship event at Cheltenham would look good on any potential stud brochure.

The requirement to geld most male jumpers is obvious given the nature of the job they undertake although there have been exceptions.

The renowned Monksfield enjoyed a stud career and so did the 1995 Champion Hurdle winner Alderbrook. In 1981 Martin Pipe’s first Cheltenham festival, Baron Blakeney landed the Triumph at 66-1. He too finished up at stud.

In contrast to those kind of odds Solo looks sure to start a warm favourite on the back of his recent Adonis victory. That earned him a rating that theoretically would have seen him to the forefront of Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle.

It’s hard to see any of his youthful opposition being mentioned in such a bracket just yet even though Allmankind and Goshen in particular are both unbeaten over flights.

The Irish juvenile crop doesn’t look exceptional in comparison although Aspire Tower looked to be head and shoulders over them before a final-flight fall at the Dublin Racing Festival.

The Gold Cup card’s other main supporting Grade One is the Albert Bartlett Hurdle which at three miles on testing ground promises to be a gruelling test for novices.

That could be something Latest Exhibition relishes given how stamina has looked a strong point in his last two starts in particular. It would be a popular win for Paul Nolan’s runner who once again meets Cobblers Way, the horse he beat to Grade One honours at Leopardstown last month.

Capable Fury Road

Fury Road was fifth on that occasion although a combination of three miles and soft ground might be to his advantage on this occasion.

All of them, however, look like facing a task in repelling home favourite Thyme Hill.

Philip Hobbs’s runner was third in last year’s ultra-deep Champion Bumper and has progressed from that over flights. He is a course winner on deep ground and followed that up with a top-flight victory in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury.

JP McManus runs two in the festival finale, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle, and both look to hold leading claims.

Ilikedwayurthinkin won twice at last summer’s Galway festival, ran a noteworthy fifth at Leopardstown over Christmas last time and shapes as a horse that will relish the final hill.

Front View has ground to make up on Five O’Clock from Thurles recently, but didn’t enjoy much luck in the race and a has a significant weight pull with his rival.

Ciel de Neige looks to lead a McManus trio into the Randox County Hurdle and holds obvious claims on a slightly unlucky run at Newbury last time.

Not such an obvious option is You Raised Me Up but Martin Brassil’s runner impressed on his first ever handicap start at the Dublin Racing Festival.

The Foxhunters Chase has a history of throwing up repeat winners and last year’s hero Hazel Hill might join them.

He has ground to make up on Minella Rocco from Wetherby last month but was found to have a muscle strain afterwards.

Tips Day Four

1.30: Solo
2.10: You Raised Me Up
2.50: Thyme Hill
3.30: Al Boum Photo
4.10: Hazel Hill
4.50: Eclair de Beaufeu
5.30: Front View (Nap)
Nap and Double – Front View and Thyme Hill

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