Yanworth to tackle Contenders

Yanworth is to have his prep run for the Champion Hurdle in the Betfred 'Follow Us On Twitter' Contenders Hurdle at Sandown on February 4.

Yanworth: Set for Contenders Hurdle

The Alan King-trained seven-year-old showed he was a worthy candidate for the two-mile showpiece when winning the Christmas Hurdle despite Kempton not being his ideal track.

King wants to give the JP McManus-owned gelding another outing before aiming him at Cheltenham.

"He'll go to Sandown for the Contenders (Hurdle) and we'll take it from there," the Barbury Castle handler told At The Races.

"He's a horse that's taken time to mature and he's never been beaten over two miles.

"I think Cheltenham will suit him better than Kempton, with a bit more emphasis on stamina.

"He's very much in the mix and we're lucky to have him."

King indicated Yanworth's future could lie over fences, adding: "I think he'll end up chasing sooner rather than later. I think he'll love a fence when the time comes."

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King has a possible second string to his Champion Hurdle bow in Sceau Royal.

The trainer has not lost faith in the five-year-old, who disappointed in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle after easily landing the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.

Sceau Royal is set to return to the Somerset track for the Betway Kingwell Hurdle next month.

"He wasn't quite right after Newcastle and he will go to the Kingwell. I think he could be the forgotten horse in the race (Champion Hurdle)," said King.

"He travelled really well in the Fighting Fifth but he didn't quite see his race out.

"He's definitely better than he showed that day."

King gave updates on a few of his other Cheltenham Festival hopefuls, including Challow Hurdle winner Messire Des Obeaux, who is set to have one more run before a tilt at the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.

"He's a grand horse and has been very progressive this season," said King.

"He'll either go to Cheltenham on Trials Day or we'll go to Huntingdon for the Sidney Banks.

"He'll have an entry in the Supreme as well as the Neptune, but he won't be entered in the three-miler (Albert Bartlett). I think the Neptune is probably his race."

Uxizandre could return to action later this month for the first time since he won the Ryanair Chase in 2015

"He's in the Queen Mother and he's also in the Ryanair. He'll either go to Doncaster or Cheltenham on the 28th," said King.

"We're a bit limited about where to run him as he has to go left-handed."

Smad Place is on course to try to repeat last year's victory in the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on January 28 ahead of a possible Gold Cup bid if the ground was suitable.

"The plan is to run him at Cheltenham in the Cotswold like he did last year. It will probably be that or Newbury," said King.

"If it was softish ground, I would think we will probably run in the Gold Cup and try to pick up the pieces."

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