Sign Of A Victory can rule in Kingwell Hurdle
Sign Of A Victory can make the most of the 4lb he receives from Irving to land the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton today (3.35).
Trained by Nicky Henderson, this gelding was put in his place last time out in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton when fourth to Champion Hurdle favourite Faugheen, but prior to that had a progressive profile and this is far easier.
The six-year-old has won three of his six starts over hurdles, and looked an ultra-smart prospect in the last of those when cruising home in a Listed handicap hurdle on seasonal reappearance at Ascot.
Sign Of A Victory travelled ominously well throughout and after being produced to lead at the last cruised home hard on the bridle to beat Dawalan by a cheeky 1/2 a length.
Jockey Barry Geraghty didn’t have to move a muscle, and Dawalan is a useful sort who has gone on to score twice since.
However, it was the manner of the success which impressed most and Sign Of A Victory clearly has a huge engine and should be more than capable of winning races at this level.
The obvious danger is Irving, who was clearly not right when pulled up in the Christmas Hurdle.
Trained by Paul Nicholls, this gelding was a very smart novice last season, and looked set to make a winning reappearance in the Elite Hurdle this track when upsides with the leader and seemingly on top when coming to grief at the last.
Irving demonstrated he was none the worse for that tumble when hurdling slickly and showing a smart turn of foot to beat Aurore D’estsuval by 1 1/2 lengths in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle. A reproduction of that effort would make him tough to beat.
The seven-year-old is officially rated 8lb superior to Sign Of A Victory, but there has to be a major concern as to which Irving will turn up given his abysmal effort at Kempton, and for that reason I am keen to be against him.
Blue Heron finished in front of Sign Of A Victory when third in the Christmas Hurdle and sent off 66/1.
This seven-year-old needs to prove that wasn’t a fluke, but clearly has plenty of talent and could prove tough to peg back if allowed an easy lead if the contest turns into a tactical affair.