By Geoffrey Riddle
Yanworth made a satisfactory start to his chasing career at Exeter on Tuesday when he comfortably dispatched classy hurdler Sternrubin in the 188Bet Best Mate Beginners’ Chase.
The Liverpool Hurdle winner justified 2-7 favouritism and on the run-in put paid to Sternrubin’s challenge to win by two lengths. There was 20lbs between them on official ratings and Muffins For Tea, rated 122, was 25 lengths back in third.
As a Grade One hurdler over three miles at Aintree Yanworth remains the 12 favourite for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham. He is 8-1 alongside Finians’ Oscar for the JLT Novices’ Chase over 2m4f . In December Yanworth won the Christmas Hurdle from The New One, and if you fancy him to run in the Arkle Trophy you can still get 20-1.
That latter race looks unlikely, however, and although trainer Alan King has no immediate plans for his seven-year-old he was keen to step up from the 2m1 ½ f at some point during the season.
“We could go a stiff two but as the season goes on I think we will step him up, let’s see how he is in the morning and we will have a sit down and think about it,” King told Racing UK.
“I’ll be honest, I haven’t looked beyond today, I just wanted to get this out of the way.”
Sternrubin led under Richard Johnson and jumped markedly to the right for the whole of the 2m1 ½ f.
Yanworth looked fresh and well and early on he ballooned the water jump. For much of the early exchanges the seven-year-old looked like he wanted to go a stride quicker, but it was not until the third last fence that he draw level with his main rival.
Sternrubin jumped the final three fences to the right angling to the right and from there it was Yanworth’s engine that pulled him to the front and finished the race as a contest.
“Job done, he was a little bit up in the air at the first few,” he added.
“I think it was because they weren’t going terribly quick, we probably go faster schooling at home to be honest, he was just having a look.
"Down the back he jumped really well, got in a bit tight to the second last but he will have learned from that.
"Sternrubin is a pretty good horse, he is race fit too. Mine are nearly there but they are definitely coming on for a run, but we are ready to start and its relief I am very happy with him.
"Barry said pretty much the same: got up in the air over the first few, he jumped super down the back up the rising ground. He was happy.”
“I wouldn’t mind a few more of them, I'd be champion trainer with a yard full of those.”