King: Yanworth ready for test of championship credentials
Yanworth will undergo a test of his Champion Hurdle credentials after connections confirmed on Tuesday he had been entered in the 32Red Christmas Hurdle.
However, the full make-up of the field he could face at Kempton on Boxing Day remains unknown for a further 24 hours after the race was reopened until Wednesday having attracted just five entries.
The New One and My Tent Or Yours, in the same JP McManus ownership as Yanworth, were also engaged, but there was no news as to whether last year's winner Faugheen, who has been off the track since January, or the mare Vroum Vroum Mag had been included by Willie Mullins.
Yanworth, one of last season's top novice hurdlers, won the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle on his reappearance at Ascot over two miles and three and a half furlongs and was set to move up in distance this season, but the emergence of the McManus-owned Unowhatimeanharry in the stayers' division has led to a rethink.
The Christmas Hurdle will be his first start at two miles since he won the Sky Bet Supreme Trial at Ascot a year ago.
Trainer Alan King, writing in his Racing Post Weekender column, said: "Obviously it’s going to be a big test for him, but we need to find out if he’s a Champion Hurdle contender and I think this will give us some idea.
"There will probably be a few big guns in opposition, but Yanworth is well. We’ve not really trained him any differently since switching targets from the World Hurdle and he breezed on Saturday, which we were very happy with.
"The big question is whether he’ll be effective over two miles at Kempton, but the one thing I can say is he’s never been beaten over that trip over hurdles. I genuinely don’t know how he’ll fare, but we’ve got nothing to lose by trying so let’s see what happens."
Yanworth, a best-priced 10-1 for the Champion Hurdle, will meet at least two Christmas Hurdle regulars. My Tent Or Yours has won twice at the track and beat The New One half a length to land the prize in 2013.
The New One has won three times at Kempton, finished second to Faugheen in last year's Christmas Hurdle, and beat My Tent Or Yours in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham last time out.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: "There are only five in there, but he's one of them. He was only beaten a whisker by My Tent Or Yours three years ago. He made a mistake at the last otherwise he probably would have won.
"He's in very good form as you've seen. We want to apply the same tactics as at Cheltenham, more forcing tactics."
The majority of the ground at Kempton was good on Tuesday but rain is expected over Christmas.
Clerk of the course Barney Clifford said: "It's currently good, good to soft in places. It's probably 60 per cent good, 40 per cent good to soft and we've got sporadic rain to come. There are two or three bands of rain between now and Christmas day with 5-6mm in each band, and Boxing day looks breezy, but a nice day. I expect we will be good to soft by Boxing day, which should suit everybody."