Over the past decade or so we have seen the Adonis Hurdle grow into the key trial for the Triumph at the Festival and this weekend's renewal is shaping up nicely. No less than six winners of the Adonis Hurdle have gone onto win a Grade 1 at the Cheltenham Festival over the past ten years and it will be fascinating to see who comes out on top at Kempton this year. There is a good field engaged in the race on Saturday including the Paul Nicholls trained Irish Saint who will be ridden by Ruby Walsh.
The Ditcheat trainer already has Far West towards the head of the Triumph Betting and a win for Irish Saint on Saturday could see his price slashed. The same connections won the Adonis Hurdle back in 2011 with Zarkandar and we all remember him following up the next month to win the Triumph Hurdle which might be a good omen for Irish Saint. Last time out he was second behind the highly impressive Rolling Star at Cheltenham and connections of that horse will certainly be keeping an eye on the form at Kempton.
Alan King has a nice juvenile on his hands this season in the form of L'Unique and she will also be testing her credentials against the boys in the Adonis Hurdle. She has won both here starts in Britain to date but this is by far her toughest assignment with the Triumph and the Fred Winter both still on her radar for Cheltenham. Nicky Henderson is always a trainer to follow with Cheltenham in mind and the Seven Barrows handler will be running Vasco du Ronceray at Kempton on Saturday. He already has Rolling Star on target for the Triumph but a good run from Vaso Du Ronceray this weekend will give him another bullet to aim at the big Juvenile Hurdle next month.
The horse has shown plenty of decent form so far this season, including a second place behind Far West at Cheltenham back in November and has to have a chance at Kempton on that basis. The Adonis Hurdle roll of honour reads like a whose who of Festival winners with the likes of Binocular, Punjabi, Soldatino and Well Chief all joining Zarkandar on the list of recent winners. It is fair to say that this year's race features a number of potential Triumph Hurdle horses who at the moment are considered no more than each-way chances. That could all change though come Saturday evening with the winner of the race likely to see their Triumph Hurdle price slashed for the Festival.