Alan King vies to reign supreme with Elgin in Dovecote at Kempton

Fri 24 Feb 2017

Alan King relies upon Elgin in a bid to secure a fifth victory in the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday.

It is 11 years since the Barbury Castle handler first landed this Group Two prize with smart mare Senorita Rumbalita and he has since added to his tally with Trenchant (2009), Grumeti (2012) and last year's winner Winter Escape.

Elgin made an impressive start to his career over hurdles at Newcastle in November and comfortably followed up in what looked a warm contest at Kempton on Boxing Day.

He proved no match for the exciting Neon Wolf in a trial for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Haydock last month, but connections are expecting a bold show.

Dan Downie, racing manager for owners the Elite Racing Club, said: "We're very happy with him and this is a race we've been looking at for some time.

"It'll be a tough race, but he's obviously won at the track before, so we know the track suits him.

"We obviously don't know how good Neon Wolf is at this stage, but he looked very impressive at Haydock. It will be interesting to see how he goes at Cheltenham.

"This race will certainly answer a few questions as to where we're heading with our horse."

Nicky Henderson has saddled seven previous winners of the Dovecote and has another leading candidate in the form of River Wylde, who steps up in class following successive wins at Ludlow.

"The Dovecote has been very much the plan for River Wylde," said Henderson.

"If all goes to plan with him, the Supreme Novices' Hurdle will be his target at the Festival next month."

Paul Nicholls, a three-time Dovecote winner, saddles Capitaine, who impressed at Ascot in December before finding Finian's Oscar too strong in the Tolworth at Sandown.

Nicholls said: " The plan has always been to run Capitaine in the Dovecote.He has been in good form since his run at Sandown last month.

"We will see how he gets on at Kempton before making a decision about Cheltenham."

Peter The Mayo Man has plenty of jumping experience, with his six starts over hurdles yielding three victories.

He was unable to reel in Henderson's Lough Derg Spirit at Musselburgh three weeks ago, but trainer Neil Mulholland is not despondent.

He said: "Hopefully the ground is good and we'll see what he can do.I wasn't disappointed with his run at Musselburgh. The track wouldn't have suited him, he picked up good money for finishing second and he'll improve.

"He's a few entries at Cheltenham, but we'll see how he runs on Saturday before making any plans."

Bazooka, Captain Forez, Mister Universum and Ronnie Baird complete the field.

Just four runners go to post for the BetBright-sponsored Pendil Novices' Chase, with the Nicholls-trained Frodon the headline act.

Gold Present, Charmix and Zigger Zagger are the three that take him on.

Kempton racegoers are advised not to leave early, with the presence of Champ in the concluding bumper of significant interest.

The JP McManus-owned five-year-old is named in honour of 20-times champion jockey Sir Anthony McCoy, who carried the same green and gold silks to many a big-race success.

Henderson's charge could hardly have been more impressive on his racecourse debut at Southwell last month and another victory will likely set him up for more ambitious targets in the spring.

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