Yanworth secures thrilling narrow win at Cheltenham
JP McManus’s former hurdler sees off Sizing Tennessee
Barry Geraghty riding Yanworth (right) clear the last to win The BetBright Dipper Novices Steeple Chase from Sizing Tennessee at Cheltenham. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Alan King has enjoyed many memorable moments at Cheltenham and Yanworth provided him with another landmark achievement at the track after he became the trainer’s 1,500th winner of his career.
Despite having failed to impress with his jumping on his last two starts, the JP McManus-owned eight-year-old brought his A-game to the table in the BetBright Dipper Novices’ Chase.
Yanworth idled halfway up the run-in, but the dual Grade One-winning hurdler pulled out just enough to repel Sizing Tennessee by a neck.
King said of the 15-8 favourite: “His jumping was good. It looked like he was going to win well, but he pricked his ears up the run-in and I thought, ‘God, he is going to throw this away’.
“I think he will have entries in both of those [RSA and JLT] but he wants another run.
“I would imagine we will look at something like the Reynoldstown [Ascot] and there is the Scilly Isles [Sandown]. If we are taking the three mile route then it will probably be Ascot.”
On his 1,500th winner, the Barbury Castle handler said: “I’d been counting at home but hadn’t told anyone.
“Katchit was very special, then there was My Way De Solzen, and Voy Por Ustedes.
“My Royal Ascot winner [Primitivo] was something I will never forget.
“I’ve had some lovely Grade Ones and this boy has done his bit, as well.”
Having finished behind Colin’s Sister on his last two starts, Wholestone (9-4 joint-favourite) finally exacted his revenge to complete a double for Nigel Twiston-Davies in the Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle.
The Naunton handler said: “That is the best he has jumped and travelled and gone for a bit. He was a little bit sick and sorry for himself after Newbury.
“It is brilliant [to get one over Colin’s Sister] as I use to own half of Colin’s Sister, so that is nice.
“He [Wholestone] is a lovely horse. I imagine it will be one more run then back here for the Stayers’ Hurdle.”
Stablemate Ballyhill atoned for a last-time-out fall at Aintree to open his account over fences when he denied Shantou Flyer back-to-back wins in the BetBright Best For The Festival Betting Handicap Chase by a length and three-quarters.
Twiston-Davies said of the 9-1 winner: “It was a long way out at Aintree but we thought he was going well there and proved that he was. He doesn’t mind the ground, quite obviously.
“We will look at a race here on Trials Day, which is the same sort of thing, and then we will work out what we go for at the Festival after that.”