CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL: King lets Grumeti take his chance in Champion Hurdle

Alan King, pictured with Grumeti (left)

Alan King, pictured with Grumeti (left)

First published in Sport

BARBURY Castle trainer Alan King reckons Grumeti is in good order for tomorrow's Stan James Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

King's outsider completes the nine-runner field as Hurricane Fly bids to join the immortals by securing a third victory in the race.

King told his website: alankingracing.co.uk: "We know what we are up against, but we have not got too many options with him (Grumeti) at the minute and he is in good order so we will let him run."

Having recorded a world record 19 Grade One victories including four Irish Champion Hurdles, four Rabobank Champion Hurdles and his two Festival triumphs, the Willie Mullins-trained Hurricane Fly's place in history is already secure.

The last 10-year-old to win hurdling's biggest prize was the brilliant Sea Pigeon in 1980, who, incidentally, also struck as an 11-year-old.

My Tent Or Yours, runner-up behind the Mullins-trained Champagne Fever when a hot favourite for last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle, has won the Fighting Fifth, the Christmas Hurdle and a jumpers' bumper so far this term.

Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson, who has saddled five previous winners of the Champion Hurdle, said: "He had a good start to the year winning his two Grade Ones and a rather innocuous Flat race at Kempton, where I was more chuffed with him in that than the Christmas Hurdle, and so was AP (McCoy).

"The Christmas Hurdle was good, it showed there's not very much between him and The New One and they are the best of the Brits.

"Hurricane Fly is still the one to beat. Each year we come in here and everyone is trying to find reasons to beat him.

"There are some pretenders this year, a lot of them.

"I still have a lot of respect for Jezki and I have huge respect for Our Conor - I still think he could be the one, he's the horse I'm very frightened of."

My Tent Or Yours and Jezki carry the colours of JP McManus, who also has a third representative in rank outsider Captain Cee Bee.

With Tony McCoy, retained jockey for McManus, siding with My Tent Or Yours, Geraghty gets on Jezki for the first time since an emphatic victory at last year's Punchestown Festival.

FOLLOW ALL THE ACTION FROM THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL AT GAZETTEANDHERALD.CO.UK/SPORT FROM TOMORROW

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