Alan King thinks Edwardstone can cap off a great season as he targets a fifth straight Sporting Life Arkle Trophy win at Cheltenham.
The Barbury Castle handler has always rated the eight-year-old highly and he has vindicated that faith this season with the pursuit of freshman Henry VIII Sandown among his four wins.
“He’s relaxing a lot better now, which is probably a combination of what those runs and a fence did. I think we’re seeing him now fulfill the potential that we always thought he had,” King said.
“I was a little nervous going into Sandown as it was his third fairly fast race but there was nothing else for him so we decided to roll the dice.
“He came out of the Warwick race in good order and Sandown was very nice. The weather was very good compared to Tingle Creek.
“We thought we could wait for the Kingmaker, but he did very well, so we signed up for Kempton over Christmas, which I’m glad we did.
“He then had a good break and we thought Warwick was perfect in terms of timing between now and Cheltenham.”
King has won the Arkle twice with Voy Por Ustedes (2006) and My Way De Solzen (2007) and believes Edwardstone can emulate that duo.
“Voy Por Ustedes and My Way De Solzen were different types of Edwardstone,” he continued.
“Voy Por Ustedes on the ability wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but he was incredibly tough and he loved a battle. He won an Arkle and a Queen Mother through his guts rather than his ability My Way De Solzen was probably a more gifted horse but a bit more fragile mentally.
“We’ve had Edwardstone from the start and we took him down the bumper road and slipped in quietly as the other two, while they hadn’t run much, had already run before coming towards we.
“What you want in the Arkle is a horse that makes the trip and we know it does just that.
“He’s a big, beautiful horse and he’s actually bred to be a three mile to be honest with you.
“As soon as we started working properly with him, we thought it had picked up speed. Since then, he has confirmed that with his performance on the track.
“He’s been around Sandown and Warwick is a great test and if you’re doing well there, you’re doing well in most places.
“He raced well around Cheltenham in a County Hurdle and a Greatwood Hurdle. We probably couldn’t ride him at his best these days as we had to drop him to settle so he had a lot ground to reconcile.
“Now you can ride him right behind the pace, so I have no reason to think why he wouldn’t handle going over fences at Cheltenham.”
War Lord was beaten by 16 lengths by Edwardstone at Sandown but Joe Tizzard expects him to put on a good show after winning at Lingfield in his only race since.
“He’s a good, solid jumper and a good racer, doing two and a half miles. He could run a great race,” said his father’s assistant, Colin.
“We would do well to reverse form with Edwardstone but you should never be afraid of a horse and he has earned his place there. He has definitely improved all season and he has a chance in every way .”
Willie Mullins is responsible for three of the top five in bets, Blue Lord, Saint Sam and Haut En Couleurs, but jockey Paul Townend opted for Arkle’s Irish winner Blue Lord.