Tritonic in line to take on Epatante in Christmas Hurdle cracker

Tritonic could take on Epatante in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day, which will come just eight days after his Ascot win.

Alan King’s four-year-old, who was a big fancy for last year’s Triumph Hurdle where he disappointed, bounced back to form at the weekend in a valuable handicap.

While taking on Fighting Fifth dead-heaters Epatante and Not So Sleepy represents a big step up in class, his connections felt they would not be doing their job properly if they did not have the option given only five others were entered.

“When we were looking at the entries at 11am and there were only three in it we just thought we had to have a look at it,” said Iain Turner, racing manager for owner Max McNeil.

Tritonic (left) pulls away after the last to win impressively at Ascot on Saturday
Tritonic (left) pulls away after the last to win impressively at Ascot on Saturday (Nigel French/PA)

“He came out of the race at Ascot fine and while we aren’t saying he definitely runs, if we’re not even entered he definitely can’t.

“We’ll see how he is later in the week and if the handicapper puts us up what we are expecting then we won’t have much to find with some of them, so why not?

“Straight after Saturday’s race the plan was to wait until the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury and that will probably remain the plan, but if we weren’t looking at this we wouldn’t be doing our jobs.

“If we weren’t in it and we watched a four-runner race, we’d be asking ourselves why aren’t we in it. At this stage I’d say he’s a probable runner.”

Glory And Fortune (Tom Lacey), Goshen (Gary Moore) and Soaring Glory (Jonjo O’Neill) complete the sextet.

There are also six contenders for the preceding Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, which could stage a fascinating clash between Ahoy Senor and Bravemansgame.

Lucinda Russell’s Grade One-winning hurdler Ahoy Senor was a brilliant winner on his latest appearance at Newbury, while the Paul Nicholls-trained Bravemansgame is two from two over the larger obstacles.

Ahoy Senor on his way to victory at Newbury
Ahoy Senor on his way to victory at Newbury (Steven Paston/PA)

Nicholls has also entered Threeunderthrufive, who has won his last three starts at Exeter, Cheltenham and Doncaster respectively.

Alex Hales could test the water over three miles with Millers Bank, who impressed on his chasing debut at Huntingdon and looked set to follow up at Newbury before unseating his rider two from home.

Kiltealy Briggs (Jamie Snowden) and Tea Clipper (Lacey) both have a bit to find on ratings.

Both Threeunderthrufive and Kiltealy Briggs are owned by McNeil, and Turner said: “We had planned to go to Ireland with Threeunder because when we made the entries a lot of the bigger names hadn’t run over fences, but what with Covid and the difficulties of travelling we ruled it out and went to Doncaster.

“It was the same situation as the Christmas Hurdle, there was hardly anyone else in so we thought we’d best put him in.

“I don’t think we’d take Bravemansgame on and Kempton is an afterthought with him, it might not be his track. He’s had quite a lot of runs already and has options in January at Warwick and Lingfield or Ascot in February.

“But, if it doesn’t rain and Ahoy Senor and Bravemansgame don’t run, we’d be looking at ourselves wondering why we hadn’t put him in.

“I would say Kiltealy Bridge is more likely to run than Threeunder.”

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