King backing Medermit to turn tables on Go Native
Alan King believes Medermit can atone for his "very unlucky" run at last year's Cheltenham Festival by turning the tables on Noel Meade's Go Native in the Champion Hurdle.
King had his annual pre-Cheltenham stable visit yesterday, nominating Medermit, Bensalem, Mille Chief and The Betchworth Kid as his four strongest chances from a team which will number over 20.
Just a neck separated Medermit and Go Native last spring as King's grey ate into his rival's advantage up the hill in the Supreme Novices Hurdle.
The latter is totesport's 100/30 joint favourite, alongside Charles Byrnes' Solwhit, for the Champion after his 'Fighting Fifth' and Christmas Hurdle wins, while Medermit is down to 9/1 after defeating the reigning title-holder Punjabi at Haydock.
"After running third in the Greatwood, we thought we would give him one more go over hurdles. He then ran very well in the old Bula so we thought we would have a crack at the Champion," explained King. "We had schooled him over fences but that can wait. I thought he was very unlucky at Cheltenham last year when he was hampered at the last.
"He has done well since Haydock. Solwhit and Go Native look the main dangers, but I do think he has a strong each-way chance."
King's yard is back riding high after a slow start to the season, with seven winners in the last fortnight.
King's record in the JCB Triumph Hurdle speaks for itself with Penzance winning in 2005 and Katchit doing the same in 2007; Franchoek and Walkon have finished second in the last two years.
Mille Chief is his representative this time around and the youngster is set to run in Saturday's Adonis Juvenile Novices' Hurdle at Kempton.
The French recruit has been prominent in ante-post markets for the Triumph Hurdle, but his career over obstacles got off to a bad start when he was brought down at Market Rasen. However, he has since had clear-cut wins at Kempton and Huntingdon.
"He has far more speed than Franchoek and more gears than Katchit. He is similar to Penzance, who didn't go on, but he had a lot of speed," King said. "Franchoek, Blazing Bailey and Walkon have all been placed in the Triumph but Mille Chief would murder them at home."
Jim Dreaper, meanwhile, has virtually ruled out the totesport Gold Cup for Notre Pere following a disappointing effort at Fairyhouse on Saturday. Last season's Welsh National victor was beaten when unseating his rider at the final fence in the Bobbyjo Chase.
The Dublin trainer believes the nine-year-old needs more time between his races and he will aim him at either the Irish National at Fairyhouse on April 5 or the Aintree Grand National five days later. "He will not be asked to run again within three weeks of his previous run. I'd say that was possibly the mistake," said Dreaper.
Following an investigation by the British Horseracing Authority's integrity services team, two owners registered here have been charged with laying their horse to lose.
The disciplinary panel will be asked to consider whether Declan and Michael Phelan have breached Rule 247 of the old Rules of Racing by placing lay bets against Itsallaracket at Folkestone on December 1 2008.