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King counting down to Cheltenham with Edwardstone

Alan King feels Edwardstone has started to show his true potential ahead of his run in the Sporting Life Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.

The eight-year-old has been victorious in his past four races, taking a novice chase before stepping into graded company to claim a top-calibre trio of titles in the Henry VIII, Wayward Lad and the Kingmaker.

Broadly available at 2-1 for the Arkle as a result of those performances, Edwardstone is perhaps King’s best hope of a first Festival winner since Uxizandre took the Ryanair Chase in 2015.

“Edwardstone has done everything right really,” said King.

“He is a horse that has been a long time in the making, we’ve always thought the world of him.

“Surprisingly, he didn’t win his bumper but if you look back on his Warwick form, my goodness we didn’t half bump into some horses there (Shan Blue, Chantry House).”

Edwardstone was campaigned in a string of large-field handicap hurdles last season and although he only won once, King still feels the experience helped shape him into the prolific novice chaser he has become.

“Over hurdles he was always a little bit keen and he did a bit too much,” he said.

“I think running him in those top handicap hurdles last season was probably the making of him.

“He was placed in the Betfair Hurdle, was fifth in a County Hurdle and was placed at Aintree. I think it just made a man of him.

“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.”

King runs one of the leading dual-purpose operations in racing, but his Festival dry spell coming to an end would still rank highly on a long list of career achievements.

Nerves will build for Alan King as Cheltenham gets nearer
Nerves will build for Alan King as Cheltenham gets nearer (David Davies/PA)

“Edwardstone winning the Arkle would be right up there as it would get me off that cold list at the Festival,” he said.

“I’m fine at the moment, but I’m sure as it gets closer the nerves will really kick in. That is what you do the job for.

“We have just got to get him there now, though we don’t have to do a lot with him. He has still got to go through the routine.

“He has got two or three good bits of work to do and he will have to have a school the week before so we have to get through that.

“All you need is an over-reach or bruised foot and you are up against it. You can’t treat it any differently. Hopefully, we get a clean run.

“The staff are excited about it as it gives them a great lift as well so hopefully he is lucky.”

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