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The Alan King-trained Tritonic established himself as Britain’s leading contender for Triumph Hurdle glory with a smooth success in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton Park. The 99-rated Flat performer is now two-from-two over timber having built on his Ascot debut success with a comprehensive and educational victory in the Grade 2 Adonis.
More Adonis glory for King
Tritonic justified favouritism in ready fashion, giving Barbury Castle trainer King his third Adonis success in five years, bolstering his overall tally to a record-equalling five wins.
Having run down Casa Loupi at Ascot last month only in the dying strides, it was a much more clear-cut success this time over the Gary Moore-trained runner, who once more finished second.
Adrian Heskin’s mount got there easily, despite flattening the third last flight, and came away to win by ten lengths.
“We wanted to get a bit more experience into him for Cheltenham and he will have learned plenty down the inside (rail),” said King of the win.
“Once or twice he goes to sleep, but as soon as Adrian gives him a squeeze, he is straight back on the bridle. I could not have been more pleased with him.
“We gave him a proper holiday at the end of last Flat season – he was gelded and had six weeks in the field. He was only just ready to start at Ascot and I just felt we had to try to get two runs into him if we were going to have a serious Triumph horse.”
Triumph hat-trick bid likely
Tritonic is now 7/2 second-favourite for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham on March 18th, where he’ll attempt to complete a couple of hat-tricks.
It would of course be his own third win from as many starts over timber, but it would also complete a trio of wins in the Cheltenham Festival four-year-old Championship race for King, who saddled Penzance in 2005 and Katchit two years later to win the Triumph Hurdle.
For King, he’s now the most exciting ex-Flat performer to head for the race and he feels his natural speed and ability will make him tactically versatile.
“He is much the best of my former Triumph Hurdle horses on Flat ratings. We have trained him differently. Katchit we started back in September, the rest had a lot more experience than Tritonic has coming into the Triumph,” he added.
“But I think the two runs over hurdles will be enough and he has experience in big handicaps on the Flat.”
He added: “He is the highest-class Flat horse I’ve ever sent jumping. He is a good mile-and-a-quarter Flat horse. He might appear to be a little bit slow, but that is because he goes to sleep on you in a race. He only just does what he is asked.
“He should be fine for Cheltenham and he has the gears to hold a position wherever you want to ride him.”
Still more to come
Rider Adrian Heskin is confident the best is still to come from Tritonic as he continues to learn his trade. Unbeaten Irish contender Zanahiyr heads the betting for the Triumph Hurdle but Tritonic could well be challenging the long-time antepost market leader in the Festival countdown.
Racing in the colours of the McNeill Family, Heskin feels there’s plenty more in the tank, with the stamina challenge of Cheltenham expected to suit.
“He is a very smart horse,” the jockey said. “I was a little bit caught for pace midways in the race [at Kempton], but once I switched him out when we turned in, he really came alive. He wasn’t in full flow down the straight – there is still a bit (more there) with him.
“His momentum carried him through. He was just coming alive at the second-last and he is very quick across a hurdle, no matter what stride he is on. That is a big asset to him.
“The pace of the Triumph Hurdle will be ideal and that Cheltenham hill will really suit him.”