Yanworth well equipped to go two-mile route says Geraghty
Yanworth: Christmas Hurdle is next likely target
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos) Yanworth well equipped to go back to two miles By Graham Dench 7:01AM 7 DEC 2016
BARRY GERAGHTY believes Yanworth is better equipped than he was for going down the Champion Hurdle route, which has become the preferred option for the JP McManus-owned six-year-old following the emergence of Unowhatimeanharry as a major World Hurdle contender.
Yanworth is now as short as 10-1 third favourite for the Stan James Champion Hurdle following what trainer Alan King admitted in his Weekender column is "a significant change of plan". Those odds make him by far the shortest-priced British contender in a market dominated by past winners Annie Power and Faugheen.
Geraghty, who has ridden Yanworth for his last five wins, as well as his Neptune Investments Novices' Hurdle second over 2m5f, appeared to lean towards stepping up to three miles following last month's hard-fought Coral Hurdle win over 2m3f at Ascot, but he believes he is more versatile now than he was and "feels more of a racehorse".
He said: "I schooled Yanworth before he ran at Ascot and he's developed physically and has more presence. He feels more like he'll be able to cope better now with the hustle and bustle of two miles than he was last season, when the reason we went for the Neptune was to give him a chance to find his feet jumping.
"He got two-five so well at Cheltenham that there's no reason he wouldn't get further, but it's better to have options, and I do think he's versatile."
He added: "He was good at Ascot and did all he needed to do, but Alan had said he hadn't been able to do much with him on grass because of the weather and he rode like that. I'd imagine there's a lot of improvement in him."
Kempton the plan
King said Yanworth was unlikely to take up Saturday's entry in the StanJames.com International Hurdle, which was precautionary as back-up for My Tent Or Yours, but a first run back at two miles is on the cards in Kempton's Christmas Hurdle.
He wrote: "We'd pencilled Yanworth in for the Long Walk Hurdle but Unowhatimeanharry has since bolted up in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury for JP McManus and he looks an obvious World Hurdle candidate.
"So we're set to go down the Champion Hurdle route with Yanworth and if he is not needed at Cheltenham he'll probably go to Kempton on Boxing Day for the Christmas Hurdle.
"Although he's got plenty of stamina he's never looked short of speed. But the one thing we would want at the shorter trip is soft ground – and there's still not a great deal of rain around."
Read Alan King in the Racing Post Weekender, out on Wednesdays