King left puzzled by Edwardstone's disappointing Festival run

Sun 19 Mar 2023

Edwardstone is unlikely to run again this season, as Alan King attempts to find the reason for his lacklustre display in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Impressive winner of the Arkle last season, the nine-year-old had suffered a stop-start preparation due to unusually quick ground conditions this term.

While sent off the 15-8 second-favourite to avenge his defeat by the Willie Mullins-trained Energumene in the Clarence House Chase, which had been rerouted from Ascot to Cheltenham, he was never travelling with much fluency and finished fifth, some 64 lengths behind Mullins’ star.

Unseasonably quick autumn ground meant Edwardstone was not seen until December, where he duly romped to a nine-length win in the Tingle Creek at Sandown.

Long odds-on for the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over Christmas, he unseated Tom Cannon early on and, having suffered a setback after going down a head in the Clarence House, King was naturally disappointed with his latest effort.

“He’s perfectly sound after it,” said King. “We are obviously going to be running a few checks in the next week or so, but certainly there was no repeat of the lameness he had last time.

“At the moment there’s nothing more to add, really.

“We might find something. We have lots of things to do, but at the moment I haven’t go any answers. He’s fine in himself. He was fine the next morning.

“Of course we are disappointed, because I’d been so pleased with his preparation, but whatever it was, I knew we were beat after two fences. He just wasn’t travelling.”

King was not looking to blame the easy ground for defeat and will give Edwardstone all the time he needs to recover.

He added: “I don’t want to blame the ground because he’s won well on that ground before, so I don’t think it was that. I wouldn’t have thought he would run again this season.”

The Barbury Castle handler is keen to get a better run into the Champion Chase next season and added: “I would have thought the plan will be the same next year. Let’s just hope we can get him started better next year. It has been a stop-start season.

“It has not been a disaster, we have still got a Tingle Creek to our credit, so they can’t take that off him.

“But it has not been an easy year – we’ve never got into a total rhythm with him because of the ground and the weather, but there we are. These things happen. I’ve been at it a long time to understand nothing is straightforward.”

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