RACING: King charts Cheltenham course for Grumeti

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Alan King, pictured with Grumeti (left) Alan King, pictured with Grumeti (left)

BARBURY Castle trainer Alan King wants to run Grumeti in the Stan James Champion Hurdle following his pleasing return to action at Wincanton on Saturday.

The six-year-old gelding showed up well for a long way in the Kingwell Hurdle before he was outmuscled by Melodic Rendezvous and Zarkandar close home.

King was especially encouraged as the Grade One-winning Grumeti is not suited by heavy ground.

Connections will now chart a route towards the Cheltenham Festival for what is shaping up to be an epic renewal of the Champion Hurdle on March 11.

King said: "Grumeti will definitely go for the Champion Hurdle, having run well to finish third in the Kingwell at Wincanton.

"The ground would have been plenty deep enough for him, but he travelled strongly into the race and I would like to think there is still more improvement to come."

King's Cheltenham portfolio could be further strengthened by Medermit and Wilde Blue Yonder.

The former finished fourth in the Ascot Chase on Saturday on his first start since April 2012, while Wilde Blue Yonder suffered another last-flight fall in a good novices' hurdle on the same card.

The Barbury Castle handler told his website, www.alankingracing.co.uk: "Medermit came back fine after his run against Captain Chris in the Ascot Chase.

"Having been off almost two years, I thought he ran really well.

"It was a big ask in that ground in such a hot race, but we needed to get him started again. He is in the Ryanair and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, or we could wait for Aintree.

"It was tough seeing Wilde Blue Yonder take another last-flight fall at Ascot when about to win his race, but, having looked as if he was on a long stride, he changed his mind.

"Happily, he returned unscathed, and the plan is to still go for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham."

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