The opening race of the final day of the Cheltenham Festival, the Triumph Hurdle (also known as the JCB Triumph Hurdle) gets Day Four off to a flying start. It is considered to be the most important National Hunt event for juvenile participants only.

Race information

The Triumph Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt novice hurdle race for juvenile horses aged four years old and weighing 11st (with an allowance of 7lb for fillies).

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It’s run on Cheltenham’s New Course, which is a left-handed track with a turf surface. With a course length of 2 miles, 1 furlong (3,420 metres), the race includes eight hurdle jumps, only two of which are placed in the final three-quarter-mile stretch, making it a perfect course for flat-bred horses.

It has a purse of £120,000, £68,340 of which is on offer for the winner.

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Race history

From its inauguration in 1939, the race ran at Hurst Park, Surrey until Hurst Park’s closure in 1965, when it moved to Cheltenham, taking place at the April meeting.

It was incorporated into the Cheltenham Festival in 1968 with sponsorship from the Daily Express. In 1997, the Elite Racing Club took over as sponsors and, in 2002, sponsorship passed to JCB.

In the early days, 28 horses lined up for the race, but recently the number of participants has been in the mid-teens. This means a higher-quality lineup and fewer surprises, though some interesting results are always guaranteed!

Race records

Since horses are only four years old once, they are unable to win for a second time, so it is up to the jockeys and trainers to rack up multiple wins. One jockey has managed an impressive four wins: Barry Geraghty. The Irish jockey took home the prize in 2003 (riding on Spectroscope), 2009 (Zaynar), 2010 (Soldatino) and 2013 (Peace And Co).

Where trainers are concerned, Nicky Henderson is leading the charge with six wins. His successful horses have been: First Bout (1985), Alone Success (1987), Katarino (1999), Zaynar (2009), Soldatino (2010) and Peace And Co (2015).

Race trends and statistics

  • Only three fillies have ever won the Triumph Hurdle
  • Just two favourites have won since 2002
  • 18 of the last 20 winners have got at least two previous wins under their belt before this race

This is a fast-paced and highly competitive race in which speed is key to success. Most of the participating horses come from a background in flat racing, so their skills lie in being quick around the course. Those who lack stamina risk falling behind in the final uphill section, however.

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If you want to improve your chances to pick out a winner, it’s a good idea to look at form early on in the National Hunt season. Plenty of top performers can be spotted during the Festival build up, such as at the Finesse Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle trial at the Festival Trials Day. Keep an eye on the odds throughout the season as the best performing juvenile hurdlers begin to emerge.

A fiercely contested hurdle race, this certainly gets Day Four started with a bang.