Alan King reveals Yanworth switch back to hurdling was "his call"

Wed 7 Mar 2018

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By staff

Alan King has revealed that it was his decision to switch Yanworth back to hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival next week.

The trainer is confident he has made the correct decision to put the chasing career of Yanworth on hold for a shot at the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle.

[(full)Watch replay] () Watch how Yanworth fared the last time he ran over hurdles

The JP McManus-owned eight-year-old, who has won two of his four starts over fences this season, will revert to hurdles for the first time since landing a Grade One at Aintree in April in the three-mile contest at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday week.

King said: "It looks a good renewal and there is a fair bit of depth about it this year, but I think it was the right decision.

"I'd been quite keen to do it for some time and JP and Frank (Berry, McManus' racing manager) said 'it's your call'. Hopefully they are pleased with the decision I've made."

He added: "I just felt off his current mark over fences we couldn't run him in an RSA as it would be pointless, so it was either run him in the Ultima or Stayers' so from that point of view it was an easy decision.

"Buveur D'Air successfully switched from fences to hurdles last season, although he had a run before Cheltenham. We will school him on Thursday and possibly Monday, but he has had a lot of schooling over hurdles since his last run."

Elgin, a stablemate of Yanworth, has been supplemented for the Unibet Champion Hurdle on Tuesday.

The six-year-old has enjoyed an excellent season thus far, landing a competitive handicap at Ascot, the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton from five starts.

Connections confirmed after his latest triumph that a shot at Champion Hurdle glory was under serious consideration and he was added to the field at a cost of £20,000 at Wednesday's confirmation stage.

Ladbrokes and William Hill quote Elgin at 20-1 in a market dominated by Buveur D'Air, who is a top-priced 8-15.

"I think he deserves to take his chance," King said. "He is rated 161 and that is higher than three of the first six last year and you can't run in a handicap now off that mark.

"He goes in any sort of ground. If you take the favourite (Buveur D'Air) out, it is wide open after that. He has progressed right the way through.

"He is much more the finished article this year. I would have said he learned a lot from running in the Supreme (Novices' Hurdle) last season. He had never been so quick and I think that made a man of him, and he did very well through the summer.

"He was scoped on Monday and that was all good and he worked well this morning."

Stamina is not expected to be an issue for Redicean in his attempt to maintain his unbeaten run in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

[(full)Watch replay] ()

Watch how Redicean preserved his unbeaten record at Kempton last time

The four-year-old, who has recently been bought back by former owners Cheveley Park Stud, will make his first start over hurdles away from Kempton when he bids to give trainer King a third success in the Grade One contest on March 16.

King's charge is headed only by Apple's Shakira in the ante-post market, and the Barbury Castle handler said: "We've been very happy with him since the Adonis. I do not think stamina will be an issue around Cheltenham as he won over a mile and three-quarters on the Flat. He goes on soft ground, but he will be a better horse on better ground.

"It is the way he travels and quickens up which is smart and he does exactly the same at home. He has got a pretty lethal turn of foot when you ask him for it."

The trainer feels recent Newbury scorer Talkischeap could spring a surprise on his first start at the top table in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.

He said: "He surprised me hugely at Newbury. I nearly didn't run him as I didn't think he would go on that ground. He is in the Coral Cup, but he will run in the Albert Bartlett.

[(full)Watch replay] () Talkischeap heads for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle after his Newbury win

"We know he gets the trip, which a lot won't, and the better the ground is the better chance he has. He could run well at a big price."

Useful Flat performer Scarlet Dragon could be given an outing in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle having finished second in a Grade Two contest at Kempton on his hurdling debut.

King said: "I think we are going for the Supreme and he will school tomorrow. It is not the ideal preparation having just one run over hurdles, but he is a high-class horse and today was the first piece of work he has done since Kempton.

"The Supreme should be run to suit him with the strong pace there and hopefully that run at Kempton will have taken a bit of the freshness out of him."

Warwick Races

King hopes last year's Coral Cup third Who Dares Wins can see out three miles for the first time in the Pertemps Network Final before embarking on a busy Flat campaign.

He said: "I think he is going to go for the Pertemps as it has been our target all the way through. He is a thorough stayer on the Flat so he should get three miles.

"He is only just ready now as I gave him a good holiday but I was a little bit late getting him back. Luckily we've had a clean run and he didn't miss anything over the snow.

"He has got a big Flat campaign ahead of him again and we will try to win the Chester Cup with him first."

Valdez is likely to be eased in class for a crack at the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual after finishing third behind Queen Mother Champion Chase favourite Altior on his return to action in the Game Spirit at Newbury last month.

King said: "He was bang there and he just clipped heels at four out and was lucky not to come down. Once that happened Wayne (Hutchinson) was easy on him, but if he had ridden him he would have been right up their tails.

"He has come out of that well and he has been dropped 2lb. I would imagine he would go for the Grand Annual and at the moment I am leaning towards that."

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