Royal Ascot runner-up Tritonic bids to earn himself a ticket to the Cheltenham Festival with victory in the Close Brothers Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday.
The son of Sea The Moon was beaten just half a length by Highland Chief in the Golden Gates Handicap at the showpiece meeting in June, before going on to run at Listed and Group-race level.
Having been gelded during the autumn, Tritonic made a successful start to his jumping career at Ascot last month and will be a hot favourite to follow up in Grade Two company this weekend.
“We’ve been very happy with him and everything has gone well since Ascot. He’s worked away well and schooled well,” said King.
“He’ll learn plenty again on Saturday. This isn’t the be-all and end-all – it’s to hopefully get him spot-on for Cheltenham.
“It will be a sharp test for him.”
The Barbury Castle handler has saddled four previous winners of the Adonis, with his 2005 scorer Penzance going on to strike Festival gold in the JCB Triumph Hurdle the following month.
At a best-priced 10-1, Tritonic is the shortest-priced British-trained runner in the ante-post market for this year’s Triumph.
King added: “I’ve trained him totally different to the others, to be honest, in that the others all started much earlier over hurdles.
“This horse had a proper holiday at the end of the last Flat season.
“He’s the best of them on his Flat mark by some way, but they all came into this race with a fair bit more experience than he’s got.”
Tritonic renews rivalry with the Gary Moore-trained Casa Loupi, who was only a length behind when runner-up at Ascot last month.
Moore said: “He gave a good account of himself on his first run over hurdles. I don’t think it will be quite so easy this time. I think he got an easy lead.
“He’s come out of it very well. Whether he’ll come on or not, I don’t know. He was pretty fit from the Flat, so I don’t think there’s a lot of improvement fitness wise.
“Whether a bit sharper track will suit him, we’ll see.”
Jane Williams saddles Honneur D’Ajonc, while dual winner Margaret’s Legacy is an interesting contender from France and Paso Doble makes his jumping bow for Paul Nicholls.
“He is a promising recruit from Ireland, where he won twice on the Flat for Jim Bolger as a three-year-old,” Nicholls told Betfair.
“I’ve given him a bit of time since he was gelded and he may well be one for the future.
“To find out for sure, we are are going down the route we took with Zarkandar in this race some years ago.
“If Paso Doble happens to win at Kempton, then he will head for the Triumph at Cheltenham. If he doesn’t, then we will keep him for next season.”
John Locke is one of two horses set to make their jumping debut in the two mile contest. However, trainer Dan Skelton reports the gelded son of Mastercraftsman, who raced on the Flat for Ralph Beckett, to have impressed over hurdles at home.
He said: “It’s his first run for us so we are a little bit in the dark there but he has done everything right at home and he jumps nicely. I wouldn’t be pitching him in at this level if I didn’t think that he could cope with it.
“How he gets on from a competitive angle, he has got to go out there and do it for us but he works nicely and is a decent horse on the Flat that looks to jump nicely from what we have seen.”
Zarkandar won the Adonis Hurdle en route to Triumph Hurdle glory in 2011 - will we see another Cheltenham Festival contender emerge on Saturday? 🤔— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 25, 2021
Make sure you continue building your FREE bet pot for Cheltenham with @Betfair! #CheltenhamWithBetfair
18+ #GambleAware #ad
Select any odd to add a bet