The latest contender for the JCB Triumph Hurdle, on the last day of the Cheltenham Festiva,l is Alan King’s Pain Au Chocolate, which has been quoted at 16-1 following an impressive victory at Sandown on Saturday.
Pain Au Chocolate is by Enrique and The Million in Mind partnership which owns him said after the race that he had ‘booked his trip to the Triumph Hurdle with a decisive win at Sandown.’ And Alan King confirmed yesterday that Pain Au Chocolate is entered for the race.
The horse had first shown promise when winning at Plumpton earlier in the season when his trainer said he had run well enough for him to ‘semi-consider’ Cheltenham at that early stage with a prior look at one of the trials.
On that day he was part of a double with stablemate Grumeti- both horses ridden by Wayne Hutchinson. Grumeti won the novice steeplechase when his trainer said he would be a far better horse on better ground.
Grumeti has been entered for the Arkle Challenge Trophy and the Jt Novices Chase Grade 1 at the Festival.
Pain Au Chocolate had joined Alan King in the autumn and will bid to give the trainer his third win in the Triumph Hurdle, following Penzance in 2005 and Katchit two years later- both ridden by Robert Thornton.
Last year’s race went to Tiger Roll trained by Gordon Elliott, and in the previous year to Dessie Hughes with Our Conor, But in the previous decade Philip Hobbs, Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls also sent out two winners each in this juvenile race for four-year-olds run over two miles and one furlong. Jonjo O’Neill and John Quinn both had one victory.
Nicky Henderson’s current entries for the race are Top Notch, Bivouac and Hargam. Paul Nicholls’ entries are All Set To Go, San Benedeto, Old Guard Chart Breaker Lac Leman, Beuvreuil, Apsatou, while Nigel Twiston-Davies has Goodbye Dancer and Bristol De Mai.
Tim Vaughan has the Wallace Line, Venetia Williams – Guantoshol, Rocket Ship and Jeanpascal, while Nick Gifford has entered French bred Surspenders.