Yanworth (white cap): warmed up for the Champion Hurdle at Wincanton
PICTURE: Getty Images
Betway Kingwell Hurdle (Grade 2) 1m7f65y, 4yo+
HE DID not impress everyone but Yanworth’s Stan James Champion Hurdle aspirations remain intact after he was forced to dig deep in defeating Ch’tibello and stablemate Sceau Royal in the Betway-sponsored Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday.
The race sponsor was unmoved by the performance and left the seven-year-old at 7-2 for the Champion Hurdle, but Paddy Power and William Hill eased him out to 9-2 from 7-2. Bookmakers were divided in their view, though, and bet365 made him 3-1 co-market leader (from 7-2).
King will be hoping Yanworth can follow in the footsteps of Katchit, the last horse to follow victory in this race with Champion Hurdle success, masterminded by King in 2008.
The winning trainer said: “Job done really – everyone knows we have not had an easy preparation with Yanworth as he had a little problem with a pulled muscle when he was meant to go to Sandown two weeks ago.
“Considering his interrupted build up he’ll definitely come on a lot for this run as he was only 90 per cent this afternoon, and this course will not be for him as it’s very sharp and he needs a proper gallop – which is why we wanted to go to Sandown.
“We fitted him with cheepieces to sharpen up his jumping and it seems to have had the desired effect as he was more fluent. I admit he was not hugely impressive, but he has won the race and he’s now in the mix for the Champion Hurdle. I couldn’t be more pleased with him after the niggle he had.”
Barry Geraghty was anxious not to play his hand too soon on Yanworth and did not deliver his mount with a challenge until they had jumped the last, and the pair found what was required to secure victory.
King admitted to being “slightly disappointed” with third home Sceau Royal, adding he would be talking to the horse’s owners – Simon Munir and Isaac Souede – before making any plans.
He said: “I thought Sceau Royal was in top form and I’d have liked to see him win or, at least, finish second. We’ll have to wait and see where he goes next. I was slightly disappointed.”
Champion for Ch’tibello
Ch’tibello’s trainer Dan Skelton must be getting tired with his representative having a back view of Yanworth as the pair had been first and third in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
Skelton said: “He’s run virtually pound for pound with Yanworth on their Kempton race and has run another really honest race. I suspect we’ll go down the Champion Hurdle route with him, where we will be playing for some place money.
“Looking further ahead he probably will not go to Aintree as he’ll not get the trip there, and I’d like to think in terms of going to Punchestown. But that’s a way off and there’ll be some talking to do in between.”
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