Alan King hoping for early decision over Yanworth Cheltenham Festival target

Thu 18 Jan 2018
2015 Christmas Racing Weekend - Day One - Ascot Racecourse Yanworth features among 38 entries for the Stayers' Hurdle (PA)

By staff

Alan King said on Thursday that Yanworth will head straight to the Cheltenham Festival but the trainer remain uncertain whether he will run over fences or contest the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle.

Yanworth is among 38 entries for the latter race, even though he has been campaigned over fences so far this term and won the Dipper Chase at Cheltenham on New Year's Day.

"He will go straight to Cheltenham, but I don't know what race for," King said."He definitely won't run beforehand and we will keep him fresh and he will either go for the RSA Chase or the Stayers' Hurdle.

"He is in very good form and has just been doing the odd canter and is ticking away. The Stayers' Hurdle is worth fortunes this year and his form with Supasundae puts him right in the mix, so we will have to see what they want to do.

"We will have a chat and decide, but I will need to know what to do in good time so I know what to do with him schooling. He has not been back to see Yogi (Breisner) since his last run, but he will do. He has not done a lot since Cheltenham."

Sam Spinner tops the entries. Jedd O'Keeffe's charge propelled himself to the head of the market with a comprehensive victory in the Long Walk Hurdle before Christmas and could face a number of also-rans from that race on March 15.

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Runner-up L'Ami Serge is in the mix for Nicky Henderson, while third-placed Unowhatimeanharry finished third in the Stayers' last year and could try to improve on that for Harry Fry.

Willie Mullins struck 12 months ago with the ill-fated Nichols Canyon and has entered Champion Hurdle hope Faugheen as well as Let's Dance, Penhill and Bacardys as part of his eight-strong list of possibles.

Gordon Elliott has Apple's Jade in the mix, although the Mares' Hurdle she won last year has been talked of as the more likely option, with Supasundae in line to represent Jessica Harrington.

The New One could try three miles for Nigel Twiston-Davies, with Lil Rockerfeller (Neil King) and The Worlds End (Tom George) other notable contenders.

Cole Harden won the race in 2015 and is again among the entries, although trainer Warren Greatrex admits he could be "up against it" to get his charge to the Cotswolds.

The nine-year-old has not been sighted since suffering an odds-on defeat over fences at Worcester in August, after sustaining a knee problem.

Greatrex said: "He is cantering every day. He has got an entry in the Stayers' Hurdle, but we will play it by ear.

"At the moment he is fresh and well and back in training, which is good news. We are probably up against it time-wise, but we will take each day as it comes."

November Racing Weekend - Day One - Ascot Racecourse

Another familiar name in contention is Diakali, who was last seen when winning for Mullins at Fairyhouse in April but is now in the care of Gary Moore, who said: "Diakali is a bit of a character and has been with me for about three months now.

"He was a class horse when Willie Mullins trained him, although whether he will be now is a different matter.

"In the mornings, he is still showing plenty of ability and enthusiasm for the job and, at the moment, I am very happy with him.

"The plan is for him to run at Sandown on February 3 or if he doesn't go there, he will go straight to the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell on February 25.

"The Stayers' Hurdle entry looks ambitious, but it is an open division and his first run should tell us more about the horse."

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