Monday December 26
Two winners at Kempton, including the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle with Yanworth, made this Boxing Day the best yet for Alan, while Barbury celebrations were topped up with another brace down at Fontwell, courtesy of Bastien and Rainbow Dreamer.
Speaking to the assembled press corps from Kempton, Alan, whose four winners came from just six runners, said:”It has been a very special day, and I could not be more delighted with both Yanworth and Elgin,” the latter having rubber-stamped his claims to be a contender for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March when winning the opening novice.
“Everything seemed against Yanworth, what with this being such a sharp two miles and the ground drying up much more than I had hoped. The wish was for soft ground, but we needed to find out whether he was a serious Champion Hurdle candidate.
“I think he has answered that question and he surpassed all our expectations. He has come on since Ascot, where he was a bit short, having been restricted to just a couple of gallops on the grass, but he learned a lot there and he’ll have learned more here. He had to dig deep, but he was never stronger than he was up the home straight and I’m delighted.
“We’ll talk to JP (McManus) and Frank (Berry), but I’d be happy to go straight for the Champion now, though I suppose he could have one more run for match practice.”
Reflecting on Elgin, who travelled like a dream through his race, Alan added:”He settled so much better than he had when winning at Newcastle and he was also happier going right-handed. That said we’d have to now think of Cheltenham, and he’ll have a break now and then come back to Kempton in February for the Dovecote Hurdle and then hopefully on to the Festival.”