Adagio earned himself a Timeform rating of 138 following his Grade 1 victory at Chepstow over the weekend.
There may have been no Irish representation in the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow on Saturday, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the strength of the form shown by Adagio, who earned a Timeform rating of 138 which identifies him as one of the main dangers to Zanahiyr (141p) in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Held up in the early stages at Chepstow, Adagio was produced to challenge Nassalam (134p) on the long run between the final two flights and sealed matters with a flying jumping at the last. He then stayed on strongly on the run-in despite idling briefly to win by two and a half lengths.
Perhaps even more pertinent when assessing the strength of the form is the distance that the first two pulled clear from the second-last, leaving the others toiling in a manner that suggests both are above-average.
The clock certainly backs up that impression as Adagio recorded a considerably quicker time than both Witness Protection (2.5 seconds slower) and Dame Du Soir (7.3 seconds slower), who won over the same course and distance later on the card.
Adagio is worth crediting with significant improvement as a result, looking a different horse to the one who was beaten by Duffle Coat at Cheltenham’s November Meeting, his only defeat from four starts over hurdles.
A first Grade 1 winner in Britain for trainer David Pipe since Moon Racer won the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in 2015, Adagio now looks a live challenger to Zanahiyr in the Triumph, while Nassalam also emerged with his reputation enhanced despite losing his unbeaten record since joining Gary Moore from France.
This represented a much stiffer test of Nassalam’s credentials than when he demolished lowly rivals in two previous starts at Fontwell, and he arguably deserves extra credit having given closest pursuit to the trailblazing Bannister, who set a fierce gallop in the early stages.
Nassalam is likely to have even more to offer with this experience under his belt and will be well worth his place if joining Adagio in the Triumph field.