Smad Place win tops Alan King's bumper five wins Saturday - but will he go for the Gold Cup?
LATER NEWS: It has been confirmd that Smad Place will run in the Timico Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. Jockey Richard Johnson believes the grey has the ability to dominate his rivals. Smad Place is currently 12-1 with some bookmakers.
Smad Place has done it again. The tough grey, trained by Alan King at Barbury Castle, took the BetBright Trial Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday (January 30) with a twelve length win over Many Clouds. The race is seen as a trial for the Cheltenham Festival's Gold Cup.
Alan King notched up a treble of wins at Cheltenham on Saturday - with Yanworth and Annacttoy adding to his victories. And to cap that, the same afternoon brought him two wins at Doncaster - including a win for Ziga in the three mile Sky Bet Chase.
As the Racing Post headline over its full report on Cheltenham's trials races put it: "Bouyant King reigns supreme on trails day."
Nine-year-old Smad Place, owned by Mrs Peter Andrews, was leading the field when the Gold Cup favourite Djakadam, ridden by Ruby Walsh, fell at the tenth fence. It was Smad Place's third success in four outings and he was said to have "completed the task in fine style."
Smad Place's win leaves King with a tough decision. After he was beaten in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, the trainer had thought he would run in the Cheltenham Festival's Ryanair Chase.
Now the pressure is on for an entry for the 2016 the Gold Cup. In March last year Smad Place was eighth out of the eleven finishers in the Gold Cup.
When asked after the race whether Smad Place would go for the Gold Cup, King said: "Don't ask me that. I'm going to enjoy this afternoon. If I was confused before, I'm probably more confused now, but it doesn't make the Gold Cup less likely."
Smad Place's victory at the Cheltenham trials meeting was under Richard Johnson after his regular rider and King's stable jockey, Wayne Hutchinson, had to pull out with an injury. He fell at Doncaster on Friday injuring a foot - he is expected to be out of action for a few days.
Cheltenham reported big crowds for its trials meeting. But jump racing has been badly hit recently by the rain - and heavy conditions abound.
Fontwell was abandoned today (January 31.) Ayr's Monday (February 1) meeting has been abandoned. Parts of the course at Plumpton are said to be waterlogged with an inspection at 7.00am on Monday.
Tuesday's meeting at Lingfield has already been abandoned and Taunton - 'waterlogged in places' - also faces an inspection on Monday morning.