Alan King says Yanworth could run in handicap at Cheltenham Festival

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Sun 18 Feb 2018

By Andy Stephens

Alan King has raised the prospect of Yanworth missing three Grade One options at the Cheltenham Festival next month in preference to a running in handicap company at the meeting.

Speaking to Nick Luck on Luck On Sunday, the trainer initially said “no comment, but I think it will be three miles” when asked which race the eight-year-old would contest at the four-day meeting.

When Luck responded by saying that narrowed it down to the RSA Chase or Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle, King swiftly interjected by suggesting the Ultima Handicap on the first day of the meeting was also under consideration.

Yanworth at present has an official rating of 149 over fences, which is 14lb lower than his mark over hurdles.

Clearly, the JP McManus-owned gelding would be on a potentially attractive mark and, set to go straight Cheltenham without another run, there is no obvious reason why his mark would rise in the interim.

Bet365 make him 8-1 and are going non-runner no-bet.

“All I can tell you is that he’s in very good form,” King said. “We are just about to start cranking him up. He’s been tipping away for the last fortnight or so and he will start doing some serious work this week.

New Year's Day Meeting - Cheltenham Racecourse Yanworth's rating over fences is 14lb lower than his mark over hurdles (PA)

“Off 149 he might well have an entry in the Ultiuma on Tuesday. We’ll get him there in top shape and then decide where we go.”

Yanworth is one of three McManus-owned entries for both the RSA Chase and Stayers’ Hurdle. In the former race he also has Modus and Sutton Place engaged, while in the latter Unowhatimeanharry and Jer’s Girl could represent him.

His green and gold colours were carried to victory in the Ultima in 2009 by Wichita Lineman under an inspired Tony McCoy.

Wichita Lineman was not always a natural over his fences and lined up off a mark 14lb lower than his rating over hurdles, so the similarities with Yanworth are striking.

King won the race with Bensalem two years later. At the time he was able to run off a mark 10lb lower than his rating over the smaller obstacles.

Yanworth is generally 10-1 third favourite for the RSA and 12-1 for the Stayers' Hurdle. He is 16-1 for the JLT, but that option seems to have been discounted.

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