Alan King keen on Champion Hurdle entry for Kingwell winner Elgin
Alan King seems set to supplement Saturday's Kingwell Hurdle winner Elgin for the Unibet Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, when the trainer's team could also include the classy Yanworth in handicap company.
A Listed winner at Ascot in November, Elgin – 16-1 with Coral and bet365 for the Champion Hurdle – followed up in the Greatwood at Cheltenham and was given a break after finishing sixth in a Grade 3 handicap hurdle.
He returned with a vengeance in the Kingwell, powering to victory under a penalty.
King, who trains the six-year-old for the Elite Racing Club, sounded keen on the idea of a £20,000 supplementary Champion Hurdle entry immediately after the race, and remained sweet on it on Sunday morning.
"I think so," said the trainer, who felt running Elgin in last year's Supreme was the making of him.
"In the last three weeks his work has really progressed again, and I was looking forward to running him at Wincanton. With the penalty it was going to be a tough ask, but he came through it very well.
"I've just been looking through the ratings of last year's Champion Hurdle and the second and fourth were rated 154 and 157, and Sceau Royal was sixth off 155. I think Elgin will be close to 160 come Tuesday [when new handicap marks are published] – he's going to go up a fair bit for that, I imagine.
"He's just progressed right through the year and is a big powerful horse now."
King won last year's Kingwell with Yanworth and landed it in 2008 with Katchit, who went on to win the Champion Hurdle a month later.
"They're different types really," he added. "Elgin has come along more gradually, whereas Katchit was a top-class juvenile who held his form the following year.
"I think Elgin is a true two-miler, and the other thing I'm quite tempted to do is run him on the Flat in a mile-and-a-half maiden, because we've got practically nothing at home to lead him."
King also raised the intriguing possibility of the JP McManus-owned Yanworth running in the Ultima Handicap Chase, due off 40 minutes before the Champion Hurdle.
Two from four over fences this term, the eight-year-old holds an entry in the RSA Chase, and King has not ruled out the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle.
There might be, however, a third option at the festival.
"He's in very good form and we're about to start cranking him up now," said King, speaking to Racing UK. "He'll do some serious work this week. We'll get him there in top shape then decide where we go.
"Off 149 he might well have an entry in the Ultima."
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