JP McManus’s Yanworth set for Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle

Owner’s star novices Coney Island and Anibale Fly may be separated at Leopardstown

Yanworth: returned to action with a hard-fought success under Barry Geraghty at Ascot last month. Photograph:  Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Yanworth: returned to action with a hard-fought success under Barry Geraghty at Ascot last month. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

JP McManus’s team are readying their Christmas Grade One squad with Yanworth set to put his Champion Hurdle credentials on the line at Kempton on St Stephens Day.

Last season’s leading cross-channel-based novice returned to action with a hard-fought success over two and a half miles at Ascot last month.

But he will revert to two miles for the Christmas Hurdle and a possible clash with Faugheen.

Both horses top ante-post betting lists at 6-4 for Monday week’s test and Yanworth is currently a 10-1 third-best in Champion Hurdle betting lists behind both Faugheen and Annie Power.

“The plan is Yanworth will run in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and find out if we have a Champion Hurdle contender or not. We should learn a lot from it hopefully,” said McManus’s racing manager, Frank Berry.

McManus’s best Grade One result so far this season came when Coney Island beat another horse in the famous green and gold colours, Anibale Fly, in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse earlier this month.

The pair could be split between a pair of Grade One novice options at Leopardstown with Anibale Fly going for the St Stephen’s Day feature at the Dublin track, the Racing Post Chase, and Coney Island waiting for the Neville Hotels Novice Chase on the final day of the festival.

Open mind

The former Champion Hurdle hero, Jezki, hasn’t raced in almost 19 months since defeating his old rival Hurricane Fly over three miles at the 2015 Punchestown festival.

However he has been back in work at Jessica Harrington’s yard for some time and Berry confirmed: “He’s in good form and the plan is to run in the three mile Grade One at Leopardstown [Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle on day three of the festival.]”

Prior to that McManus will have more immediate top-flight ambitions with last season’s Albert Bartlett winner Unowhatimeanharry, who won on his first start for the owner at Newbury last month, set to line up in this Saturday’s JLT Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.

A total of 13 remain in the three mile event including the stalwart stayer Reve De Sivola, a three -time former winner, who is due to line up in the race for a fifth consecutive year having finished runner-up to Thistlecrack in 2015.

Noel Meade’s Waxies Dargle landed a €100,000 handicap at Fairyhouse’s ‘Winter Festival’ last time and is one of half a dozen Irish-trained hopefuls left in Saturday’s valuable Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle.

They include Willie Mullins’s topweight, Renneti, and a trio from Tony Martin’s yard, Pyromaniac, Quick Jack and Golden Spear. Gordon Elliott has left in Mick Jazz who finished third to Waxies Dargle at Fairyhouse.

However it is another McManus runner, Consul De Thaix, trained by Nicky Henderson, who has been installed as 7-1 favourite in some lists.

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