Saturday February 18

Bookmakers were unimpressed, easing his Champion Hurdle odds to 7-1, but, while Alan conceded that Yanworth‘s Kingwell Hurdle victory at Wincanton today was workmanlike at best, he knows the horse better than anyone and expressed himself “happy enough”.

Yanworth had to dig deep after the final flight to master veteran Melodic Rendezvous, but Alan is adamant that we will see an improved performance in the big one in 24 days time.

He said:”It has been well documented that Yanworth went into this Cheltenham prep with an interrupted preparation, having been forced to miss Sandown because of a pulled muscle, and he was probably only 90% ready on a track which would have been plenty sharp enough for him.

“In the circumstances, I would say it was “job done”, and he’ll come on for that before March 14 when Cheltenham and a faster gallop will suit him so much better.

“The first time cheekpieces sharpened up Yanworth’s jumping, and for me he is still very much in the Champion Hurdle mix, though I will need to talk to Sceau Royal‘s owners before deciding whether he goes to Cheltenham. He travelled better than anything, but I was disappointed that he didn’t finish in the first two.”

Sceau Royal, having his first run since performing below-par in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle in November, was cruising between the last two flights. but he did not finish his race as well as Yanworth, fading into third on the run-in.