I’ve been looking a little further into the Triumph and the market looks seriously lopsided to me. The majority of the principals in the Triumph are horses who want or need it soft, and Cheltenham is invariably good or better. Since 1990 Cheltenham (on Gold Cup day) has been soft once (1995) and G/S once (1999) – it’s nearly always good ground and is occasionally G/F.
The juvenile year this year has been marked by a significant increase in quality NH bred horses coming in from France. The going in France is invariably soft or heavy and French horses are bred to do well on this surface. I’ve been going through the form – one thing I don’t understand is why there are certain French races where every horse has a name that is one word beginning with the letter “P”. It may be that this denotes that the horse is not a thoroughbred, but that is just a guess. A lot of the French imports come from this pool.
Looking through the Triumph market I see a lot of horses who have only ever done well on soft or heavy ground – Lounaos, Good Bye Simon, Pauillac, Parrain, Robin Du Bois, Island Life. A few others look to handle good but perhaps they are not best on it and have no G/F form – Katchit, Poquelin, Mountain. Pouvoir I’m not clear on – Alan King has made comments suggesting he doesn’t like it too soft and he is probably a good ground horse.
The only horses at he top of the Triumph market with better ground form are Degas Art and Liberate. Both of these can front run, and could set a blistering pace in the Triumph that the French types will not be able to deal with. There may be other horses waiting in the wings who haven’t been able to come out yet as the ground has been so soft.