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Date added: 09 March 2007

Local racing experts reveal their Cheltenham fancies 

STORY UPDATE: 16 March 2007 2.47pm
Alan King
Festival three-timer:
Alan King
Triple Triumph for King!

Katchit capped a magical week for Alan King today - making it three wins at this year's Cheltenham Festival for the Swindon trainer.

Robert 'Chocolate' Thornton once again onboard as King and his Barbury Castle stable took victory in the JCB Triumph Hurdle to add to their first place finishes in the Arkle Chase and World Hurdle.
Triumphs that gave Thornton the 'Top Jockey' award for the 2007 Festival - a week that both he and King decribed as 'a dream'.

"It's been pretty unbelievable, hasn't it?" a beaming King admitted, "at the start of the week I just wanted everyone to run well and hope it would be good enough to for win. But not three.
"That's better than I could have ever hoped."
STORY UPDATE: 14 March 2007 4.55pm

Robert 'Chocolate' Thornton and Voy Por Ustedes jumping the last at the Cheltenham Festival
Champion chaser:
Voy Per Ustedes jumps
the last on his way to victory
Double Triumph - again
- for King!

His horses' names may be difficult to pronounce but that's not stopping everyone talking about Swindon trainer Alan King again today.
Especially after a bumper festival crowd and millions at home on TV watched his six-year-old gelding Voy Por Ustedes [VPU] register a second triumph at Cheltenham when winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
A victory that confirms King as one of National Hunt's top handlers, following the victory of My Way De Solzen yesterday in the Arkle Chase.
Both horses providing a Cheltenham double for the second successive year.
"I'm almost speechless," King admitted after watching 5-1 shot VPU travel nicely in behind the leaders before making his move with two left to jump.
"Last year's result was a dream come true and this is even better. Robert ['Choc' Thornton] once again gave him a great ride and the horse showed why everyone in the stable loves him.
"He's a horse for the big occasion and you can't ask for anymore than that."

STORY UPDATE: 13 March 2007 3.22pm

Chocolate' Thornton and My Way De Solzen in the winners enclosure at the Cheltenham Festival 2007
Two years running:
Alan King, Robert 'Chocolate'
Thornton  and My Way De Solzen
in the winners enclosure
at the Cheltenham Festival
King of Cheltenham - again!

Swindon trainer Alan King was all smiles this afternoon after guiding My Way De Solzen [MYDS] to victory again at the Cheltenham Festival.
The 2006 World Hurdle winner proving last year's success was no fluke by crushing a high-class field by five lengths to land the prestigious Arkle Chase under the expert stewardship of jockey Robert 'Chocolate' Thornton.
Hot favourite Fair Along, who had beaten MYDS earlier this year, was second. Frontrunner Jack The Giant was third.
The victory was worth £170,000.
My Way De Solzen, with Robert 'Chocolate' Thornton onboard, powers up the hill to land the Arkle Chase
Romping home:
My Way De Solzen, with Robert 'Chocolate'
Thornton onboard, powers up the hill
to land the Arkle Chase

"Above all, it's a great relief," a delighted King said, "it was a joy to watch."
"I've said it before, and I'll say it again. He's the best horse I've ever trained - and possibly the best I'll ever train. He's that special."
King, who told a packed pub of punters at the Calley Arms last week (see story below) that "it is a high class Arkle but I certainly wouldn't be swapping My Way for anything else" had agonised over whether to change MYDS's Festival run to the Ryanair Chase instead, because of the drying ground.
But after an inspection of the course yesterday, the Barbury Castle trainer decided today was the day.
"The ground was still soft enough to suit him," King confirmed, "and I'm glad for everyone involved we decided to go for it."
Repeat success?
The trainer will now hope his other Cheltenham star, Voy Por Ustedes, last year’s hero in the Champion Chase, will provide another notable double by winning the race again on Wednesday.
"Who knows? He's been in great order at home," King confirmed.

Local racing experts reveal their Cheltenham fancies
09 March 2007

For Swindon punters looking for hot racing tips, The Calley Arms in Hodson was certainly the place to be on Wednesday night.
The packed pub played host to a Cheltenham Festival Preview Evening where a panel of experts shared inside tips with the merry crowd in preparation for the most prestigious four days in the National Hunt calendar which starts this Tuesday.
Calley Arms Cheltenham Preview
In the know:
the Calley Arms panel of (l to r) racing journalist
Jonathan Powell, Barbary Castle trainer Alan King
and national hunt jockey Robert 'Chocolate' Thornton
Wiltshire-based journalist Jonathan Powell led the knowledgeable panel comprising of Barbary Castle trainer Alan King and his stable jockey Robert 'Chocolate' Thornton, along with William Hill bookie Ben Clark from Bristol.
King and Thornton are certainly familiar with the Cheltenham Winner's Enclosure, as in the 2006 Festival the team celebrated a double with wins with Voy Por Ustedes in the Arkle Trophy and My Way De Solzen in the World Hurdle.
Both horses are set to run again this year, in the Queen Mother's Champion Chase and the Arkle or the Ryanair Chase respectively, and there are high hopes for the yard.
"It is a high class Arkle but I certainly wouldn't be swapping My Way for anything else" confirmed King.
Calley Arms Cheltenham Preview
Hoping for a repeat performance:
Alan King and 'Chocolate' Thornton celebrate
after their horse My Way De Solzen won
at Cheltenham in 2006

One of the horses that impressed the entire panel was the Nicky Henderson trained Ameretto Rose who is set to run in the first race of the Festival, the Supreme Novices Hurdle being described by Thornton as "professional and a good traveller".
Champion Hurdle
Detroit City, trained by Philip Hobbs got the unanimous vote in the Champion Hurdle and Well Chief got the nod from the panel for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
"If he is back to his best he will be hard to beat," remarked King.
Other tips came from Alan King in the form of Punjabi and Denman whilst bookie Ben Clark suggested Tidal Bay in the Ballymore Novice Hurdle, Fair Along in the County Hurdle, New Alco in the William Hill Trophy, Ungaro in the Royal & Sun Alliance and Don't Push it in the Arkle.
Calley Arms Cheltenham Preview
An odds-on success:
it was standing room only at the Calley Arms for the
specially arranged Cheltenham Preview

My Turn Now in the Ballymore Novice Hurdle was tipped by King, Clark and Thornton as was Monet's Garden in the Ryanair Chase whilst Powell opted for Taranis in the latter. New Little Brick was also praised by the panel as was Aran Concerto and Catch me.
Heavy going?
With the seemingly unceasing rain the ground is all important and could mean that several major contenders maybe out of the running if it is too heavy and many last minute decisions are set to be made.
The pinnacle of the meeting being the Gold Cup, a Grade I race worth a hefty £425,000.
Ante post favourite Kauto Star heads the 2007 entrants and is set to face stiff opposition in the form of Exotic Dancer, State of Play, Beef or Salmon and L'Ami.
Kauto Star
Kauto Star was declared the unanimous favourite, described by King and Thornton as a wonderful horse with their only worry being whether he makes it up the hill, although Thornton also has respect for Exotic Dancer.
But with so many high class horses involved it is seemingly impossible to select a winner.
With over 200 bookmakers in attendance and an estimated £500 million staked on the outcome of these 24 races it seems, though, like quite a few are willing to have a go.
What to get your money ON (and away from!):

Alan King
Alan King
Alan King
Racehorse Trainer
Trained two Cheltenham Festival winners in 2006
BANKER of the Festival:
Royal & Sun Alliance Chase
BISMARK of the Festival:
Ladbrokes World Hurdle
Jonathan Powell
Jonathan Powell
Jonathan Powell
Racing Journalist and Writer
Mail on Sunday correspondent
BBC pundit
BANKER of the Festival:
Grand Annual
BISMARK of the Festival:
Four Mile Chase

Robert 'Chocolate' Thornton
Robert 'Chocolate' Thornton
Robert 'Chocolate'  
National Hunt Jockey
Rode two Cheltenham Festival winners in 2006
BANKER of the Festival:
Brit Insurance Novice's Hurdle

BISMARK of the Festival:
Ladbrokes World Hurdle
Ben Clark
Ben Clark
Ben Clark
William Hill's Betting Expert

BANKER of the Festival:
Champion Hurdle
BISMARK of the Festival:
Royal & Sun Alliance Chase

 Alan King Racing - official website
 Alan King Racing - more information

 Cheltenham Festival - official site
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