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Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle runners - Yanworth heads Cheltenham field

Jon Wilde in Wed. 15th March 15 Mar 2016
  • Eleven runners will line up for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle
  • Yanworth and Yorkhill head the field for Wednesday's opener at Cheltenham
Barry Geraghty and Yanworth clear the last flight to win at Ascot (credit: Cheltenhampro.com)

Trainer Alan King has expressed his confidence in Yanworth as J P McManus' exciting prospect bids for a five-timer in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday.

King has made no secret of how highly he rates Yanworth, who has improved in leaps and bounds since being switched to hurdling after finishing fourth in last year's Champion Bumper.

After landing his first two novice hurdles at prohibitive odds at Exeter and Warwick, Yanworth was again a very short price as he trotted up in the Grade Two Kennel Gate Novices' Hurdle at Ascot.

Impressive though those victories were, Yanworth stepped up another gear when beating a strong field with consummate ease over an extended two-and-a-half miles in the Classic Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day in January.

King said: 
"We have brought him along steadily and then when we stepped him up to Grade Two company on Trials Day 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 he would be even better when we moved him up in distance. 
“The ground was really testing that day but he was always travelling and couldn’t have been more impressive. He has speed and stamina and we are looking forward to it.”

Yorkhill heads a four-strong assault from the Willie Mullins stable after being switched from Tuesday's Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

The Graham Wylie-owned six-year-old won the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown on only his second start over the smaller obstacles.

That race was over two miles but was run on heavy ground and he showed two-and-a-half miles held no fears when he romped home at Punchestown in December.

Mullins said:
“He’s a very exciting horse. He had two bumper runs last season, winning both without too much fuss and his hurdling career has continued in that vein. 
“He was very impressive in the Tolworth. The ground was heavy that day but I’m convinced he is a better horse on better ground. 
“I’ve been happy with him at two miles and his pedigree suggests he can go up to three miles. He is a point-to-point winner but he's sharp. 
“He has had two runs over hurdles and two wins, including a Grade One, and the horse who finished third came out and won the Betfair Hurdle.”

Mullins fields a formidable supporting team in the shape of A Toi Phil, Bello Conti and Thomas Hobson.

The latter was a useful handicapper on the Flat for John Gosden and put up a good performance to beat stable companion Open Eagle in the Grade Two Leamington Novices' Hurdle at Warwick in January.

A Toi Phil has won his last two starts at Leopardstown while Bello Conti struck on his only start over jumps so far at Clonmel in December.

There is a fifth Irish raider in Vigil, who has finished fifth in the Champion Bumper for the last two years.

Dermot Weld's six-year-old has had only two races over hurdles. After taking third place behind A Toi Phil at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, he opened his account at Naas last month.

Nicky Henderson runs O O Seven, whose sole defeat in four races over hurdles came when he was second to Yorkhill in the Tolworth.

Dan Skelton realises his two runners, Its'afreebee and Welsh Shadow, have plenty to find on the form book but reports them ready to do themselves justice.

He said:
"We all know they both have plenty to do on numbers but they are in good form. I think on the ground, both want this trip."

Venetia Williams runs Yala Enki, winner of three of his five starts this term, while Peter Bowen's Ghost River completes the line-up.


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Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle runners - Yanworth heads Cheltenham field

Trainer Alan King has expressed his confidence in Yanworth as J P McManus' exciting prospect bids for a five-timer in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday.

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