Triumph plunge on Minsk flops

Alan King's Grumeti now favourite for Festival race as Irish-trained novice found ill on losing debut

The Cheltenham Festival claimed its first high-profile casualties yesterday: those brave or foolish punters who had backed last year's Irish Cesarewitch winner Minsk to favouritism for the Triumph Hurdle before he had left the ground in public. After the gelding was beaten a neck at Fairyhouse on Saturday on his debut over obstacles, his price expanded from 5-1 to 16-1 for the four-year-old crown, but at least the investors were at that stage getting a run for their money.

Twenty-four hours on, though, trainer Dessie Hughes announced that Minsk, who had led going to the last but failed to extend on the run-in, had been harbouring an infection and will not be at Prestbury Park two weeks on Friday, or indeed any jumps course until next season. "He was disappointing," he said, "so we had him scoped and found he has an inflamed throat. His lungs are clean but he's starting to get a cold and the vet said there's no way he could have finished the race strongly with that."

The son of Dalakhani was transferred from John Oxx to Hughes by owner Barry Connell to launch his career as a jumper and was soon given rave reviews for his technique in his new discipline which, combined with his progressive Flat talent, prompted the Cheltenham gamble. He will return to Oxx for another Flat campaign, with the Irish St Leger as his main target, before resuming over hurdles.

Minsk's place at the head of the Triumph Hurdle betting has been taken by the Alan King inmate Grumeti, who was ridden by Robert Thornton for the first time on Saturday when he made it three from four over hurdles at Kempton. And Thornton liked what he felt. "I would not think there is a tougher four-year-old physically anywhere in the country," he reflected yesterday. "He is so strong for one so young, but he is a stuffy individual and I should think he could improve again. And he is street-wise – he had two seasons on the Flat. He seems to have everything you would look for in a Triumph horse."

Fontwell yesterday gave some of the players in Cheltenham's lesser contests the chance to put their cases, none more persuasively than last year's Triumph Hurdle seventh Third Intention, nine-length winner of the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell. The five-year-old, with the assistance of a first-time tongue tie and a step up to two and a half miles, coasted home under his trainer Colin Tizzard's son Joe in the Grade Two contest, and has a return to handicap company scheduled, in either the Coral Cup over a furlong more or the County Hurdle over three less.

Barbers Shop, once third to Kauto Star in a King George VI Chase, was less impressive as he scraped home in the hunterchase from a horse having his first run for nearly five years. But at least he has now qualified for the Foxhunters at the Festival.


Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap: Ruacana (5.00 Wolverhampton)

Will have learned plenty from his debut over course and distance last week, when he ran green early but finished strongly once the penny dropped.

Next best: Speed Steed (4.15 Plumpton)

Has improved since joining his present stable and, after two good apprentice-ridden efforts off today's mark, now has more experienced hands taking over.

One to watch: Casual Mover (John Best) got off the mark in handicap company on his step up to 10 furlongs 12 days ago at Lingfield, and with few miles on his clock surely has more to offer.

Where the money's going: Seabass was cut to 16-1 from 33s by Stan James for the Grand National after his seventh victory in a row in yesterday's Grade 2 two-miler at Naas.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Reimagined: Gwyneth Paltrow and Toni Collette in the film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
Cannes 2015Dheepan, film review
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine