Tuddenham shoots for Listed triumph at Wetherby
Alan King’s Tuddenham Green bids to make it two from two over obstacles in the Weatherbys nhstallions.co.uk Wensleydale Juvenile Hurdle at Wetherby on Friday.
The Listed contest has a fairly distinguished recent roll of honour, with the last three winners – Langer Dan, Duffle Coat and Porticello – going on to win the Imperial Cup, a Grade Two at Cheltenham and the Grade One Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow respectively.
Tuddenham Green failed to get his head in front in five starts on the Flat, but won decisively on his hurdling debut at Chepstow three weeks ago to earn himself this rise in grade.
“I haven’t done a lot with him since Chepstow, to be honest, but he did it nicely that day and had a good school earlier in the week, so we’ll see,” said King.
“I think he’s a long way from the finished article – he’s a big, weak horse. We’ll have a look at this and see where we go from there.
“He didn’t have a lot of racing on the Flat. He ran well in both of his races as a three-year-old and he’s a horse who will keep improving physically.
“We’ll roll the dice at Wetherby and see what happens.”
He's been a right little star for us, that's for sure
Dan Skelton saddles 35-length Stratford scorer Medyaf, while champion jockey Brian Hughes partners Donald McCain’s 17-length course-and-distance winner Vintage Valley, who is fitted with blinkers for the first time.
The small but select field is completed by the Sheena West-trained Mr Freedom, who is the most experienced horse in the line-up after four hurdles outings, three of which have ended in victory.
West said: “My selling point for him was that he’d win the juvenile hurdle at Plumpton and thankfully he’s done that and more.
“He’s been a right little star for us, that’s for sure. He’s well and has been freshened up and he’s pretty hardened now. He’s entitled to be there, anyway.
“The main thing with this horse is he’s been a surprise. We never had these sort of ideas with him, but we’re looking forward to it.”
The most valuable race on day one of the Charlie Hall meeting is the £40,000 Each Way Extra At bet365 Handicap Chase, in which Evan Williams saddles Coconut Splash.
The seven-year-old has been placed six times over fences without winning and makes his first competitive appearance since February.
“Coconut Splash is grand. He needs to go somewhere and ran very well around the track behind Chantry House, so we felt it made sense to start him off here,” said Williams.
“We are of the opinion that the style of racing in handicaps, particularly a stronger pace, will suit him more than novice chases with smaller fields.
“He would have to run well on Friday for us to consider the Paddy Power Gold Cup but, with a bit of progression, I don’t think it would be silly to look at those kind of races as they could suit him.”
Coconut Splash’s rivals include Ann Hamilton’s veteran top-weight Nuts Well, Into Overdrive – winner of his last three races for Mark Walford – and Paul Nicholls’ recent Chepstow victor Flic Ou Voyou.
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