Yanworth off the mark over fences with cosy victory at Exeter
Yanworth made a successful start to his chasing career on Tuesday, leaving it late to get the better of Sternrubin at Exeter.
One of last season's top hurdlers, Yanworth completed a smooth transition to fences when he was eased past his rival by jockey Barry Geraghty in the beginners' chase.
In the end he won by two lengths after being pushed to the front on the run-in without Geraghty having to pick up his whip.
Winning owner JP McManus flew in by helicopter to see the race for what was his first visit to the course since the death there in 2005 of Best Mate, after whom the race was named.
Coral responded by promoting Yanworth to 8-1 joint-favourite (from 10) for the JLT Novices' Chase, a position he shares with Finian's Oscar. He is an unchanged 12-1 for the RSA Chase and 16-1 for the Racing Post Arkle.
Yanworth posted Grade 1 victories in the 2m Christmas Hurdle and 3m Liverpool Hurdle last season and had 20lb in hand on hurdle ratings over Sternrubin, who was fit from a summer's campaign on the Flat.
The 2-7 favourite gave the first three fences plenty of air but gradually found a rhythm and, though Richard Johnson on front-running Sternrubin tried his best to put him under pressure, there was nothing he could do once they had engaged on the run to the line.
Yanworth's trainer Alan King said: "I am very happy with that performance as he was a bit big at the early fences but was very good down the far side of the track and really warmed to his task. We were taking on a race-fit rival so he has done well in the circumstances.
"Barry was very happy with him as he came back and said he really warmed to the task and we have the option now of staying at a stiff two miles or moving him up to two and a half miles. However I have not looked beyond today as I wanted to get this out of the way first.
"I was always going to bring him to Exeter at either this meeting or the one at the beginning of November as it's a lovely track and there is not a better place to run a novice as they learn plenty around here."
The verdict: our experts on the anticipated debut
Class act will have learned plenty
Yanworth was the class act on show and, apart from being a bit careful and big at the first four fences, connections can go home with a job well done and think about the future. He will have learned loads for this first experience over fences and we can expect him to be more polished in future.
There are plenty of options open to the winner as he seems just at home over a stiff two miles as he would undoubtedly be over two and a half, but all roads will be leading to the festival next March.
Andrew King, West Country correspondent
Jump four out was a belter
As far as chase debuts go, connections of Yanworth should be delighted with the performance of their Grade 1-winning hurdler. Thanks to Sternrubin quickening on down the back, Yanworth had to jump cleanly to stay in contention and he did just that.
In fact he was happier once the tempo quickened and will have learned plenty jumping the four fences in the home straight at speed. His leap four out was a belter and he remains an exciting recruit to chasing.
His trainer Alan King famously won an Arkle with Stayers’ Hurdle winner My Way De Solzen but I think Yanworth is more effective over further than two miles and long term it will be over two and a half and three miles where we see the very best of him.
Lewis Porteous, reporter