November 9, 2012 Leave a comment
Having enjoyed plenty of success at the Cheltenham Festival down the years, the Alan King Barbary Castle Stable looks primed to enjoy success once again this season with a number of gifted youngsters amongst his ranks.
Theses will complement the many who have already established themselves as top performers from the yard. Horses such as Sefton Hurdle winner, Lovcen, the highly promising hurdler, Balder Succes, Raya Star, the stable’s biggest earner last season and not forgetting Smad Place, third in the World Hurdle behind Big Buck’s at the Cheltenham festival in March.
Here are five young horses from the Alan King yard I like the look of and will be watching over the coming months.
Second on his British debut behind a decent Paul Nicholls novice, Far West was the much vaunted Handazan, who has arrived at the King stable after achieving a Flat Rating of 98, suggesting that this three year old oozes class. King was much impressed with his debut performance behind Far West and recognised that he would improve greatly for that run, something he did when comfortably winning a Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree a couple of weeks back on his second run for the yard.
He is being pencilled in as a possible Triumph Hurdle contender and on what he has shown so far, he would have every chance of being there and is currently rated as a 33/1 chance in the race’s antepost market.
This very smart horse was been beaten just once last season in Bumpers, that coming in the Doncaster Sales race at Newbury, where he possibly had contracted some sort of stomach bug as he ran far below that was expected. Before that defeat, he won two from two over two miles with his first win coming on Good ground at Warwick, which he won by over eight lengths. That win came last March and he followed it up with a second Bumper victory at Kempton in February, this time on Soft ground, proving that the going will have little bearing on his performance.
His first start in Novice Hurdle company came at Wincanton in October, where he went down by a 1/4 of a length when 6/5 favourite.
It is abundantly clear that there are high expectations for Valdez and improvement is sure to come now tried over obstacles and he could be the yard’s challenger the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham next March.
A winner twice from three starts last season after joining the King stable from France, this obviously very talented four year old also finished third in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival back in March (watch on Youtube). He is clearly one earmarked for stardom in the future but whether or not he has the speed over two miles is a doubt and it would seem the yard were keen to test his stamina over 2½ miles on his seasonal debut at Aintree recently. However, he was pulled up on that occasion leaving questions to answer but he should not be written off just yet and is worth watching on his next couple of starts.
This three year old arrived at Barbary Castle with a glowing reference from Henrietta knight who has spent a lot of time schooling him. She believes that he will make the transition from Flat Racing to Hurdles comfortably and it is suggested that he has the potential to make it through to Graded Company. It may also be worth noting that McVicar was originally trained on the flat by Mick Channon, who had originally looked after Katchit, before he too moved to King and went on to win the Champion Hurdle in 2007. If McVicar is anything near that quality then the stable have got themselves a real star in the making!
McVicar was a very good handicapper with a couple of good wins under his belt and whole string of decent performances. His debut for the yard came at Huntingdon on the 4th November where he demolished five rivals in an easy 15 length victory when the 3/10 favourite. A more satisfying introduction to National Hunt life he could not have had and is certainly one to keep an eye on.
Already established as one of the stable stars, Grumeti will have benefited hugely from the Summer break after a hugely promising Juvenile season.
As is well known, Grumeti avenged his defeat by Countrywide Flame in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival by winning the Grade One Matalan Anniversary Hurdle at Aintree three weeks later, where he had the John Quinn beaten by a length back in second.
Before the Cheltenham Festival, he had won twice at Grade Two level, including the Triumph Hurdle Trial in January, clearly proving that he had taken to hurdling far more readily than most. His racing career had begun on the flat as a 2 year old where he was trained by Michael Bell and campaigned in handicaps, winning twice.
King has no real reason to rush him straight back on course and has suggested that he will be kept back until the early part of December. At that time, he will be given a warm up before taking on his first target of the season, the Grade One, Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and the Champion Hurdle will be the longer term aim at the Festival in March.