Nicky Henderson's Fusil Raffles produced an exquisite performance to claim victory in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton Park, and the Seven Barrows four-year-old is now a leading contender for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at next month's Cheltenham Festival.
Henderson knows what it takes to win the Adonis and the Triumph Hurdle with a youngster as Soldatino achieved that feat in 2010, but in Fusil Raffles he has a horse that shaped like there's a lot more to come over hurdles and could prove to be a lively adversary to Sir Erec, who was a clear favourite in the Triumph Hurdle betting.
Kicking nine lengths clear of the field at Kempton, Fusil Raffles cruised through the race and then scooted clear up the home straight and the bookmakers were suitably impressed slashing him into as short as 4/1 for the Friday opener at the Cheltenham Festival.
A wide open betting heat prior to the off, the Adonis was turned into an utter romp as Daryl Jacob quickened clear on board the 4/1 favourite, and while he may lack the experience Sir Erec has, Fusil Raffles will spearhead the British charge in juvenile showpiece.
Sir Erec will still be the one to beat for Joseph O'Brien, as he has shaped like he could be the next star in the National Hunt ranks, but Henderson was sweet on his star performer on Saturday in the aftermath of the race and indicated that he will now line up at the Cheltenham Festival and aim to emulate the mighty Soldatino, who achieved the Adonis-Triumph double.
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