Joseph O’Brien Holds Many Triumph Hurdle Cards
We have seen a few claims this season that the Triumph Hurdle contenders so far look pretty average and that the division is a weak one this year. One man who would more than likely disagree with that is Joseph O’Brien, who has three live contenders for the race and currently trains the favourite. That horse is Fakir D’oudairies, who shot to the head of the market after a hugely impressive victory over course and distance on Saturday.
There is no better place to stake your claim for a race at the Cheltenham Festival than at the course itself, and that is exactly what O’Brien did. He sent two horses across the Irish Sea to run in the Grade Two Triumph Hurdle Trial, and ended the race with a 1-2, showing the strength he has in the division, although after the race we were only talking about one horse.
Fakir D’Oudairies was arguably the most impressive winner of the day in the opener, storming up the hill to take the prize. Prior to the race, stable mate Sir Eric was the Triumph Hurdle favourite but he leapfrogged over him to take that title with the bookmakers. The JP McManus owned Sir Eric will have his chance to fight back and put down his own marker on Sunday, when he looks set to run in the Grade One Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown. He is currently 9/4 favourite for that race, and if he goes on to win in impressive fashion then it will be fascinating to see how the bookmakers react, and where they place him in comparison to Fakir D’Oudairies.
While these two look to be the main hopes for O’Brien, we also saw an impressive performance from Konitho on Sunday to keep his name in the hat for Triumph consideration. Speaking after the race on Sunday, O’Brien said that he wants to get one more run into Konitho before making a final decision on Konitho, but Fakir D’Oudairies will go straight to the race after booking his place 24 hours earlier.
A win in the Triumph would officially be a first Cheltenham Festival winner for O’Brien, as he trained his 2016 winner Ivanovich Gorbatov to win the Triumph under his dad’s license as his hadn’t been accepted in time. Although we all know that Joseph was the man behind that victory, it will be nice to see him get his own name on the festival winners board and if this season is anything to go by, it will be the first of many for the young Irishman.