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King backing Edwardstone to triumph in Arkle test

Alan King feels Edwardstone can cap a fine season as he seeks a fifth successive win in the Sporting Life Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham.

The Barbury Castle handler has always rated the eight-year-old highly and he has justified that faith this season with the Grade One Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown among his four victories.

“He is now relaxing much better which is probably a combination of what those races and a fence have done. I think we are now seeing him fulfil the potential we always thought he had,” said King.

“I was a bit nervous going into Sandown as it was his third fairly quick run, but there was nothing else for him so we decided to roll the dice.

“He came out of the Warwick race in good order and Sandown was very pleasing. The time was very good compared to the Tingle Creek.

“We thought we might wait until the Kingmaker but he came out of it really well so we slotted in Kempton at Christmas, which I’m glad we did.

“He then had a proper break and we thought Warwick was perfect timing-wise between now and Cheltenham.”

King has won the Arkle twice with Voy Por Ustedes (2006) and My Way De Solzen (2007) and feels Edwardstone can emulate that duo.

“Voy Por Ustedes and My Way De Solzen were different types to Edwardstone,” he went on.

Alan King with Voy Por Ustedes
Alan King with Voy Por Ustedes (David Davies/PA)

“Voy Por Ustedes on ability wasn’t the greatest I’ve ever had, but he was incredibly tough and he loved a battle. He won an Arkle and a Queen Mother through guts as opposed to sheer ability. My Way De Solzen was probably a more talented horse but a little bit more fragile mentally.

“We’ve had Edwardstone from the beginning and brought him through the bumper route and crept along quietly whereas the other two, while they hadn’t run much, had already run before coming to us.

“What you do want in the Arkle is a horse that gets the trip and we know he does exactly that.

“He is a big, fine horse and he is actually bred to be a three-miler to be honest with you.

“As soon as we started to do some proper work with him, we thought this has got some speed. He has since backed that up by his performances on the track.

“He has been around Sandown and Warwick is a great test and if you go well around there, you go well around most places.

“He has run well around Cheltenham in a County Hurdle and a Greatwood Hurdle. We probably couldn’t ride him at his best those days as we had to drop him right out to get him to settle, so he had a lot of ground to make up.

“Now you can ride him just behind the pace, so I’ve no reason to think why he wouldn’t handle going over fences at Cheltenham.”

War Lord was beaten 16 lengths by Edwardstone at Sandown, but Joe Tizzard expects him to put up a good show on the back of his victory at Lingfield in his only run since.

War Lord (left) in action at Lingfield
War Lord (left) in action at Lingfield (Steven Paston/PA)

“He’s a good, solid jumper and good traveller who gets two and a half miles. He could run a big race,” said the assistant to his father, Colin.

“We’d be doing well to reverse the form with Edwardstone, but you should never be afraid of one horse and he’s earned his place there.

“He’s definitely improved all season and he has a live each-way chance.”

Willie Mullins is responsible for three of the top five in the betting, Blue Lord, Saint Sam and Haut En Couleurs, but stable jockey Paul Townend had no hesitation in plumping for Irish Arkle winner Blue Lord.

He told his Ladbrokes blog: “Blue Lord has a good chance in the Arkle. That said, there’s a lot of horses in here with good chances. My horse was very closely matched with Riviere D’etel at Leopardstown. We are slightly better off in the weights now with her.

“I think Edwardstone deserves to be favourite, but our lad is improving. He kept good company over hurdles, chasing has improved him and he will be there in the mix.

“Haut En Couleurs and Saint Sam will have to jump better, so I am happy to be on Blue Lord. He is a Grade One winner and I would say between him and the mare (Riviere D’etel) there’s only the difference of a jump in it. If I can get by Edwardstone, it will be a close finish.”

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