Rolling Star the new Triumph Hurdle favourite
Nicky Henderson has another good one in Rolling Star
(Healy Racing Photos)
The French import was already prominent in the ante-post betting lists for the juvenile highlight in March and he jumped to the top of the market following an impressive start to his career for new connections.
The winner of his sole start over hurdles on the continent, he raced in third behind the front-running favourite Irish Saint.
The two had it between them from a long way out with all of the other runners off the bridle as they came down the hill.
Ruby Walsh edged the leader across to the stands' side rail with Barry Geraghty moving to his left and the centre of the track as he bided his time.
He produced his mount to challenge as they jumped the last and the son of Smadoun ran on strongly up the hill to win by two and a quarter lengths with 30 lengths back to Roc D'Apsis in third.
Henderson said "It's only his second run over hurdles; he's run a few times on the Flat on racecourses, when I looked them up this morning, I'd seriously never heard of them and he hadn't been winning those so I was a bit concerned about what the value of it all was.
"We've had him about five months and left him alone completely to start with. He's a lovely horse, great temperament, great attitude, just a thoroughly nice person; he's always looked like a nice horse.
"Barry said he jumped great, he just had a few blows on the way round but he was entitled to do that. We were trying to finish off his preparation in some seriously difficult circumstances. I don't think he'd mind better ground, it won't hurt him.
When asked whether Rolling Star would be the yard's main contender for the Triumph, Henderson replied: "There are a couple of others still to fire but you'd think he's going to be, I suspect that's where he's going to have to head for.
"The decision will be whether we have to do it again before the day, he can afford to have another run if we want to."
Paul Nicholls said of the runner-up: "The winner is probably a Flat horse and we're more a chaser. I think it would be unlikely he'll run in the Triumph as he's more of a future horse."
Sky Bet cut the winner to 6/1 from 10s for the JCB Triumph Hurdle in March.
Frankie Dettori is looking forward to getting back to normal life after his adventure in the Celebrity Big Brother house came to an end earlier this week.