Racing

Yanworth's the man to give Alan King Champion Hurdle glory

Yanworth is taken to claim Champion Hurdle glory at Cheltenham today for trainer Alan King and jockey Mark Walsh
Red Hand

The decision to switch to the two-mile route with Yanworth can yield the best possible dividend with Alan King's charge taken to lift the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.

If JP McManus did not also own Unowhatimeanharry there seems little doubt Yanworth would be running over three miles on Thursday, but that twist of fate could prove twice as fortuitous for the owner.

Yanworth has followed a tried and tested route to the big race, having run in the Neptune as a novice last season, when beaten only by Yorkhill.

That was at a time when King's horses were running poorly and Yanworth was the only one to perform with any real credit all week.

Also, if Barry Geraghty could ride the race again it is debatable whether he would choose to chart such a wide path throughout, whereas Ruby Walsh scraped the paint against the rails on the eventual winner.

That remains Yanworth's only defeat over timber and it is slightly disconcerting that of his three career defeats, two have been at the Festival.

In recent seasons the Neptune has a better record than the Supreme of producing Champion Hurdle types, with Faugheen, Peddlers Cross, The New One, Hardy Eustace and, of course, Istabraq either winning or going very close.

King broke the long hoodoo of five-year-olds in the Champion Hurdle when Katchit surprised many and had trends followers shaking their heads in disbelief, and while this would not be as big a shock, there are plenty who feel he has yet to set the world alight this season.

But with the capable Mark Walsh in the saddle, he can finally show just what he is made of.

Altior should already have won the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy by then.

Winner of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle 12 months ago, he arrives unbeaten over fences with many already crying out for him to take on Douvan in tomorrow's Champion Chase.

That can wait for another day, and barring a fall it is impossible to see him being beaten given what he did to Fox Norton in the Game Spirit at Newbury.

At bigger prices, Cloudy Dream might finally get the strong pace he craves over fences and the Scottish Champion Hurdle winner could sneak into the frame for Malcolm Jefferson.

Ballyandy has plenty of experience for a horse tackling the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and he can follow up his victory in the Champion Bumper from 12 months ago.

Having failed to win any of his first three outings over timber he was an extremely well-handicapped horse in the Betfair Hurdle.

It was no surprise the bigger field and end-to-end gallop brought out the best in him. Ballyandy has already had 10 races compared to Melon's one and that could prove crucial in a driving finish.

With Neon Wolf and Moon Racer running elsewhere during the week, Ballyandy should take all the beating.

Apple's Jade can get the better of Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle.

While she was no match for Limini last time out, Gordon Elliott might just have taken it easy on her with an eye on this race.

Apple's Jade is worse off with her former stablemate then when gaining a narrow verdict over her in the Hatton's Grace, but Vroum Vroum Mag was subsequently very laboured in winning at Doncaster.

Singlefarmpayment had a choice of options during the week but the fact Tom George thinks his novice is better off against seasoned handicappers in the Ultima Handicap Chase is telling.

Hugely impressive when winning at the track in December, he was still travelling ominously well on Trials Day when brought down coming down the hill.

There are no stamina issues, the drying ground will suit him and novices have a good record in the race.

Joseph O'Brien's Edwulf has sound claims in the four-mile JT McNamara National Hunt Chase, while Foxtail Hill can take the Close Brothers Handicap Chase.

Nap: Yanworth

(3.30: Cheltenham)

Double: Altior

(2.10: Cheltenham)

Treble: Ballyandy

(1.30: Cheltenham)

Yankee: Apple's Jade

(4.10: Cheltenham)

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