Dermot Weld’s sole Festival success came in the Triumph Hurdle in 1990 with Rare Holiday, but the Master of Rosewell House played down the win claims of his runner Hisaabaat, who won the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown, in today’s renewal.
“I know he has a low Flat rating, but he has schooled well for us and jumps well,” said the Curragh trainer.
“He’s progressive, he’s tough and he’s consistent.
“He has a high cruising speed but whether the Irish four-year-olds are as good as the English remains to be seen.
“He’s going to run a good race but whether he’s good enough to win we’ll see.
“Last year Unaccompanied ran a good race to be second and while I’m not saying he’s as good as her, he has her qualities.”
Shadow Catcher went down by a length and a half to Hisaabaat at Leopardstown last month, and carries the hopes of trainer Gordon Elliott, along with lively outsider His Excellency.
“Both have got chances, but it won’t be easy,” said the County Meath handler.
“Shadow Catcher is a grand horse and we think a lot of him, but the other one is not without a chance either.”
Robert Thornton admits he did a lot of soul-searching before plumping for Grumeti ahead of Balder Succes as his mount.
It was the sheer “physical strength” of Grumeti that clinched his decision.
Thornton has won the Triumph twice on two Alan King-trained horses, Penzance in 2005 and Katchit two years later.
“There’s not an awful lot between them on their homework and it’s very difficult to split them,” said Thornton.
“I schooled them both the other morning and I’ve gone for Grumeti just because of his physical strength and he’s laid-back – not a lot is going to faze him.
“The other lad (Balder Succes) might just get a bit jazzed up by the whole occasion.
“Balder Succes could turn out to be the better horse, but at the minute I compare Grumeti to Penzance.
“He was very physically strong. He’ll get bumped and it won’t bother him. He’s run on the Flat and is a hard horse from that.”
King also believes there is nothing to choose between the pair.
“Grumeti has the flat-race speed and is pretty streetwise, whereas Balder Succes looks to have so much scope and is unbeaten in four races,” the Barbury Castle trainer told www.alankingracing.co.uk.
“I expected Balder Succes to win his last race at Ascot but not with the contempt that he showed his rivals, and his hurdling was so slick.
This will be the quickest ground that he has encountered, but I see no reason why he won’t act on it.
“We have always felt that good ground would suit Grumeti, so there are no worries there, and he has done nothing wrong so far and has shown that he is right up there with the best around.
“I just hope that both my horses get a clear run through the race, then we can find out which is the better of the pair.”
Pearl Swan finished a short head in front of Grumeti at Cheltenham in January, only to lose the race in the stewards’ room. Trainer Paul Nicholls said: “Pearl Swan has improved enormously and he looks fab. He’s not the sharpest in the world, like Zarkandar (last year’s Triumph winner), but he stays and has a great chance.”
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