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New Triumph favourite Solo helps owner De La Hey get over 'traumatic' weekend

The ups and downs of ownership have been laid bare in the frankest of fashion recently for Johnny de la Hey, who had the smile stitched back on his face after Solo – a horse mentioned in the same breath as Ditcheat legend Master Minded by trainer Paul Nicholls – strolled to favouritism for the JCB Triumph Hurdle with victory in the Adonis at Kempton on Saturday

De la Hey, based not far from Ascot, was smiling in the Berkshire sunshine two weeks ago when Pic D'Orhy landed a big pot in Newbury's Betfair Hurdle, but things went pear-shaped seven days ago after Cyrname's horror fall in the Betfair Ascot Chase.

That might have left its mark on Britain's best chaser and it clearly did on connections.

"Last weekend was traumatic, I've got to say," said De La Hey. "It was nothing I'd want to repeat again. I've been in this game long enough to realise those things happen, but they never get easier. Particularly when the horse is 4-11, it's just that much more traumatic when you've got a very nice horse.

"Every horse is treasured, but when you've got one like that it's just a bit more. I don't need to do that too many more times."

De la Hey was touched by the response to Cyrname's spill. "These ones are brilliant and the week before Cyrname we won with a 33-1 shot in Pic D'Orhy, whom we thought had a good chance, but then you get turned over and have a fall," he added.

"I'm grateful for everyone who looked after Cyrname at Ascot and the stress involved is a lot. You're disappointed you've been beaten and then there's the trauma on top of that. I think it's amazing the number of people who have sent me messages. You read Twitter on a normal basis and things are said that shouldn't be, but last weekend was quite touching, even if everyone is still feeling a bit drained."

Still a colt, Solo was "smashed" by Cyrname in a recent gallop, according to the owner, who is now looking forward to the Cheltenham Festival with his emerging four-year-old.

The son of Kapgarde, who is set to be gelded in the summer, can be backed at 4-1 for the Triumph, but is 3-1 favourite in places.

De La Hey, whose Diego Du Charmil was a close second in the Kingwell on Kempton's card, added: "I'm very excited and Paul and I have chatted about Solo for the last few weeks. We were hopeful he'd go well, but you never know first time out, so we're delighted. 

"Until five minutes ago I wasn't really thinking about Cheltenham. I was hopeful he'd come through this and run well. I'm surprised how well he won and we have to go for the Triumph now."

Nicholls, winning his fifth Adonis, saddled Zarkandar to win the 2011 race and he went on to land the Triumph.

The champion trainer, joking Solo was nicely handicapped for the festival race known as the Fred Winter, said: "He had shown at home he was quite smart and I wanted to see that performance, but sometimes when the French horses come over you don't know if they've acclimatised. 

"He has been a joy to train. He strikes me as being in the model of Master Minded, a big, strong horse who will make a lovely chaser. At the moment he'd head up our juveniles and will run in the Triumph. I always thought he was decent and he looks a decent horse."

That is something Nicholls and De la Hey know a thing or two about, despite last weekend's mishap.

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