King castle

King plans Kingmaker preparation for Cheltenham, Edwardstone hopes

Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy second favorite Edwardstone travels to Warwick on Saturday week as manager Alan King prepares for the Cheltenham Festival.

The eight-year-old has won three of his five starts on fences, including the freshman Henry VIII Novice pursuit at Sandown.

He was last seen taking the Wayward Lad novice pursuit at Kempton over the Christmas period.

Edwardstone has a 3-1 overall chance for Arkle on March 15 behind favorite Blue Lord.

The gelding owned by Robert Abrey and Ian Thurtle is put through its paces ahead of the two-mile Kingmaker Novices’ Chase, a race the Barbury Castle handler has won three times, with Kadount (2005), Voy Por Ustedes (2006) and Balder Success (2014).

King was “delighted” with his recent homework and added: “Edwardstone is doing very well. Everything is fine on the course.

“He studied very well on Monday and the plan is to go to Warwick on Saturday week.”

Stablemate North Lodge, who picked up two wins from two starts when landing the Year Two Classic Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday, are set to bypass the Cheltenham Festival.

King is instead considering a trip north of the border with the five-year-old for the second-year bet365 Premier Novices Hurdle in Kelso on March 5.

The two and a quarter mile event is part of bet365’s £100,000 Morebattle Hurdle card.

I will probably go to Kelso in early March and maybe Aintree after that.

King said: “North Lodge has taken its run well.

“I will probably go to Kelso in early March and maybe Aintree after that.

“It’s not set in stone, but I don’t think he will go to Cheltenham this year.”

King is set for a busy few weeks and is gearing up for Betfair Super Saturday at Newbury on February 12.

Tritonic, who won the prized Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot in mid-December before being well held in the Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, are set to fly the yard flag in the Grade Three Betfair Hurdle.

“Tritonic are still on track for Newbury,” King added. “He has to work on Wednesday, but he’s in good shape and we’re looking forward to next weekend.”

Joining him on the Berkshire track will be the versatile Royal Seal, who returns to the hunt for the first time this season.

Royal Seal returns to the fences in a bid to retain his Betfair Game Spirit Chase crown (Alan Crowhurst/PA) (PA Archive)

The 10-year-old won the Grade Two Elite Hurdle in Wincanton in November and finished third in the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle in Newcastle later that month.

He has raced exclusively over hurdles this season, but will be looking to land the Grade Two Betfair Game Spirit Chase for a second consecutive year.

King added: “Royal Seal will go to Game Spirit, so we have a lot to look forward to.

“James Bowen sat on him on Monday for the first time and I think he’ll take over with injured Daryl Jacob, so that’s the plan with him.”

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