'I'm looking forward to it' – King unleashes Yanworth over fences
The jumps season steps up another notch on Tuesday with Yanworth, one of the stars of last season, declared to make his reappearance and chasing debut at Exeter.
Yanworth proved himself as not only a high-class hurdler, but also an extremely versatile one with Grade 1 victories in the Christmas Hurdle over two miles and the Liverpool Hurdle over three.
He starts his career over fences in the 2m1½f beginners' chase (4.50) and has a clear class edge over his five rivals, with Sternrubin, the second highest-rated over hurdles, rated 20lb inferior.
Trainer Alan King said: "We're looking forward to it. We've been very happy with him at home and his schooling has gone well – we've always hoped he'd make a chaser.
"It looks a nice starting point at a galloping track on soft ground. He'll come on for the run, but he is ready to start."
Yanworth, who will be ridden by Barry Geraghty for his boss JP McManus, is the 12-1 favourite for the RSA Chase and is 10-1 second favourite for the JLT Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. However, King is keeping all options open.
"We'll get this race out of the way before making any long-term plans," he said.
Top hurdlers going chasing
Petit Mouchoir (best Racing Post Rating over hurdles: 165)
Like Yanworth, Petit Mouchoir was a dual Grade 1-winning hurdler last season. He signed off for the campaign by finishing third in the Champion Hurdle and made a favourable impression on his chasing debut at Punchestown last week, jumping slickly and racing with plenty of verve. He was made favourite for the Racing Post Arkle – at a top price of 8-1 – on the back of such an impressive start.
Brain Power (RPR 162)
Brain Power shot into the Champion Hurdle reckoning after registering a hugely impressive wide-margin win in the valuable Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle at Ascot. He failed to run up to his best at Cheltenham, finishing only eighth, but bounced back in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle, coming home a close-up fifth and stamping himself as a high-class chasing prospect.
Finian's Oscar (RPR 155)
Finian's Oscar didn't have the opportunity to post a huge rating over hurdles having been kept to novice company, but he did win twice at Grade 1 level and was just denied a third top-level success when run down late on at Punchestown. His success is all the more remarkable when you consider he only won his point in October last year. A recent wide-margin win on chasing debut did nothing to dent his massive reputation.
Best hurdlers to go chasing in the last five years*
Thistlecrack (best Racing Post Rating over hurdles: 178)
A superb seven-length winner of the World Hurdle, and successful on four other occasions during a stunning 2015-16 campaign, few horses have gone chasing to such fanfare. The hype was justified, however, as, campaigned boldly by Colin Tizzard, he won the King George VI Chase as a novice and was by no means disgraced when Many Clouds put an end to his nine-race unbeaten sequence in the Cotswold Chase.
More Of That (RPR 172)
More Of That looked set for superstar status after winning the 2014 World Hurdle on just his fifth appearance, in the process inflicting a rare defeat on Annie Power. Physical issues would blight his career, however, and, although shaping with some promise before unseating in the Irish Gold Cup last season, it appears unlikely he will ever fulfil his true potential.
Rock On Ruby (RPR 171)
Victorious in the 2012 Champion Hurdle before finishing a gallant second to Hurricane Fly when trying to retain his crown, Rock On Ruby was sent chasing in the 2013-14 season but was unable to replicate his top-class form. He won two small-field contests but blundered away his chance in the Racing Post Arkle and would not run over fences again.
>>Yanworth's best RPR over hurdles is 165
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