Espoir D’Allen underlined his credentials for the Triumph Hurdle with a smooth success in the Bar One Racing Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
Already prominent in the market for the Cheltenham Festival Grade 1, Espoir D’Allen, trained by Gavin Cromwell, was eased to the front by Barry Geraghty two furlongs from home before powering clear from main market rival Mitchouka.
Geraghty said: “He’s good, a lovely sort. He’s a gorgeous horse, very versatile. There’s a lot to like about him.
“We went steady early and he was jumping well. He was probably more relaxed today than he has been. He’s still learning. The longer the race went on the more he got into his natural rhythm.”
Available at 16-1 beforehand, Espoir D’Allen, owned by JP McManus, was trimmed into as short as 7-1 for the Triumph Hurdle behind market leader Apple’s Shakira after his Grade 3 success over two miles, his fourth win from four starts.
Cromwell said: “I wasn’t going to say too much before the race as Gordon’s [Elliott] horse was impressive in his two starts and I was obviously afraid of him, but I was very impressed with that.
“He did it the hard way and he took it up very early, went about his business and won it well. Leopardstown [on St Stephen's day] will be on the cards but we’ll talk to Frank [Berry, racing manager], JP and Barry and we’ll come up with a plan.”