Quel Destin became Paul Nicholls’ fifth winner of the Grade Two JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle, taking the two-mile contest from Cracker Factory by a length and a quarter.
The Muhtathir three-year-old, who was ridden by Harry Cobden, was bought from France in late summer and was having his third start for Nicholls.
The trainer said: “He’s improving rapidly – he had done so at home after his first run and then again since Kempton. I’d have been disappointed if we hadn’t beaten Jane Williams’ horse [Montestrel, who finished last of the six runners] but I don’t think he ran his race today.
“Quel Destin is tough and he gallops, and I can’t wait to run him on some slower ground where stamina will come into it a little bit more. He’s a real nice horse who’s improving.
“In time he will need a longer trip, especially when he jumps fences next year, but for now we will run him in these type of races. We’ll probably head off to Doncaster with him next month – there’s quite a nice race for him there – and then see where we go afterwards. He’s tough and he stays, and it was a really good ride from Harry.”
Harry Cobden, newly-promoted to the position of no.1 jockey at Paul Nicholls’ Ditcheat yard in Somerset, is on a winning streak.
He made it three wins from his last four rides when Quel Destin, who is trained by Cobden’s boss, won the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial Juvenile Hurdle.
Cobden, who rode in the colours of Martin Broughton & Friends, said: “He was very good there, although the favourite underperformed by running a bit keen. My horse was very straightforward, he travelled, battled and jumped very well and so it was a very good performance.
“Barry set off on Never Adapt and I did wonder if she might keep going, because we didn’t know how good she might be, but she was just too keen. I thought she was beaten coming down the hill and my horse was very tough and genuine and stayed on.
“I thought he was beat coming down the hill so I wanted to keep hold of him a little bit, but he is very tough and very genuine – a lovely horse to ride.
“Coming down to the last, Quel Destin came up out of my hands, and I realised he had a bit left. He’s one of our nicer juveniles so hopefully he can win a bit of prize money this season and come back here is March. Softer ground wouldn’t hurt – he has quite a very high knee action.”
Paddy Brennan rode a treble at the track yesterday, showing a preference to race away from the rail, and when asked if he had spotted a particular line, Cobden said: “I didn’t ride here yesterday, but I think we will all be going a bit wider now – Paddy knows best!”
Alan King’s Cracker Factory finished a length and a quarter second to Quel Destin.
King said: “Cracker Factory ran well. He had to carry a penalty today, but we’re happy with the performance and he seems to be improving with every run.
“There’s plenty more to come from him and he does seem to enjoy this ground.”
The Nicky Henderson-trained Never Adapt pulled hard over the first few hurdles of the extended two-mile contest but was headed, but after the last to finish a further two and a half-lengths back in third.
Britain’s champion Jump trainer added: “She was obviously too keen, but that was her first start in Britain and she would have learnt a lot from that. She has ability.”