Monday March 14

Alan is on record as declaring that Yanworth “is as good a horse as I’ve ever trained”, so he leads our charge on day two of the Cheltenham Festival, when his target is the Neptune Hurdle.

Obviously, Alan would have preferred that we approached the most important meeting of the season in better form – only one winner in the last fortnight – but he takes the blame for a disappointing raid at Doncaster recently, saying he should have taken the horses out when they had heavy rain on the morning of the race, so, not having fired too many guns during that period, he isn’t too worried about the quiet spell.

Of Yanworth, Alan said:”We have brought him along steadily, and then when we stepped him up to Grade 2 company on trials day at Cheltenham in January he produced a phenomenal performance against quality opposition.

“He had done everything we asked of him over two miles, but bumper horses usually stay and we always felt that he would be even better when we moved up in distance. The ground was really testing that day, but he was always travelling and could not have been more impressive. He has speed and stamina, and we are looking forward to it, and we have no worries about the drying ground either.”

Alan has three in the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle, and he said:”Messire des Obeaux is a horse I like a lot, and, though he is very much one for next season, I was delighted how well he ran at Haydock, and I can’t complain about his mark of 132. The ground will be very different, but he is an interesting runner.

Drying conditions will help Ardamir, who saw his race out better after his wind operation when winning at Doncaster. That victory will have done him good mentally, and the handicapper was impressed as he hiked him up 10lb. Paddy’s Runner could return here after his mid-season break. He continued to grow, so we gave him a holiday and we have always had this race in mind, though he might be a little high in the handicap.

“Finally, on day two we have Criq d’Or in the bumper. His return from a mid-winter break was delayed when he scoped badly early in the year, but we were keen to give him a run before Cheltenham to take the freshness out of him, and, though it was always going to be hard under a double-penalty at Kempton last month, he ran well and will come on a lot for that.”