Friday February 17

Sadly, as Alan feared, Newbury came a week too soon for William H Bonney, but in general Saturdays have been kind to us this winter, and, hopefully, Yanworth can come through his Champion Hurdle prep with flying colours in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.

This meeting used to be one of the most popular choices with trainers for a Champion dress-rehearsal, with the likes of Bula, Lanzarote and Alderbrook all taking the Kingwell in en route to Cheltenham, but fashions change and the last horse do the double was our very own Katchit nine years ago.

Withdrawn from his intended prep at Sandown because of a pulled muscle, Yanworth quickly put that behind him, and Alan reports his hurdling star “in great form”.

He added:”The stiffer track at Sandown would have suited him better than Wincanton, but the slow ground should offset that, and he coped with Kempton well enough when winning the Christmas Hurdle.

“Yorkhill is the only horse to have beaten Yanworth in seven races over hurdles and he is unbeaten at two miles, and, unlike some, I have no worries about his jumping being good enough to win a Champion Hurdle. He was sharp when schooling on Monday morning, and we also hope that first time cheekpieces might also make him that bit slicker at his hurdles.

“The more the ground dries up at Wincanton the better Sceau Royal‘s chance in the same race. He has been off since the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle in November, when he didn’t run his race, and, though it would not worry me going straight to Cheltenham as he runs well fresh, it makes sense to try and blow away the cobwebs here, and he is in great form.”

We are also in action at Ascot tomorrow, and, assessing our runners there, Alan said:”We have Criq Rock doing duty for us in their novice hurdle. He has had a two-month winter break since running an excellent second over the course and is ready to resume.

Label des Obeaux won comfortably at Ludlow last week, but that was the first easy race he has had so I am hoping that it serves to build his confidence, and, while the Reynoldstown Chase is a Grade 2, our fellow loves cut in the ground and, though the forecast is dry, the going will still be soft which will suit him.

“We run two in the £45,000 handicap hurdle there. Ordo Ab Chao was very ill with pneumonia and pleurisy last season and we nearly lost him. It has taken him a long time to recover, but he’s now ready to start back and if he ran well we might look at one of the handicaps at Cheltenham. My Khaleesi had to work hard to break her maiden at Fontwell, having finished second in a Listed hurdle at Haydock, but the Fontwell runner-up has won since so the form looks solid, and again the more the ground dries out the better for the mare.

Spellbound goes in the Racing UK Handicap Hurdle, and after two years off she ran much better at Warwick last time than she had done on her comeback, and I’d hope that she might come on again.

“Finally, we have Cadeaux’s Fire in the mares bumper. I’ve only had her a couple of months, but I am very pleased with her and am looking forward to getting her rolling.”

We have two runners at Market Rasen on Sunday, and Alan said:”We take the wraps off Want The Farytale in the mares novice hurdle. Though only rated in the 60’s on the Flat, she did win for Clive Cox and she, too, has been pleasing me. She schooled well on Monday and is ready to start.

Martha McCandles is in the mares handicap hurdle. She finally got her head in front at Exeter last time which would have done wonders for her confidence, and two miles around there should be ideal.”