Wincanton: Yanworth divides opinion in Kingwell
Yanworth (white cap): warmed up for the Champion Hurdle at Wincanton
PICTURE: Getty Images Yanworth denies Ch'Tibello in Kingwell By Jack Haynes 2:51PM 18 FEB 2017
Betway Kingwell Hurdle (Grade 2) 1m7f65y, 4yo+
YANWORTH confirmed his reputation as the top two-mile hurdler for trainer Alan King, although he was made to work hard to defeat Ch'tibello and stablemate Sceau Royal in the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle.
King will be hoping Yanworth can follow in the footsteps of Katchit, the last horse to follow victory in this race with Champion Hurdle success when trained by King in 2008.
However, Paddy Power were not particularly impressed with the seven-year-old's hardy victory, making him a 9-2 chance for the Stan James Champion Hurdle (from 7-2). BetVictor were even less impressed pushing him out to 7-1 (from 4), while Stan James clipped him to 4-1 (from 9-2).
King said: "Job done, really. Everyone knows we have not had an easy preparation with Yanworth as he had a little problem with a pulled muscle when he was meant to go to Sandown two weeks ago.
"Considering his interrupted build up he will definitely come on a lot for this run as he was only 90 per cent this afternoon and this course will not be for him as it's very sharp and he needs a proper gallop which is why we wanted to go to Sandown." He added: "He was not hugely impressive but he has won the race and he is now in the mix for the Champion Hurdle."
Stamina to the fore
Last year's winner Rayvin Black ensured the race was run at a reasonable tempo, although he faded out of contention turning into the home straight as 2014 Kingwell scorer Melodic Rendezvous made a bold bid for victory at the age of 11.
Jeremy Scott's veteran hurdler battled on up the straight but was headed by the two King runners approaching the second-last flight, with Geraghty opting for the inside route aboard Yanworth and Sceau Royal cruising into contention under Daryl Jacob on the outside of Melodic Rendezvous.
It was not just a two-way battle, though, with Dan Skelton's Ch'Tibello, ridden by Harry Skelton, jumping upsides the King duo at the last, and leading up the run-in.
However, Yanworth's stamina came to the fore in the final furlong, staying on strongly to deny Ch'Tibello by a length with Sceau Royal, who arguably travelled the best of the three, finishing a length and a quarter back in third.