Alan relieved that Edwardstone can switch to Cheltenham on Saturday
With Wednesday being likely to be the last of the severe frosts which have brought jump racing to a standstill, hopes are high that Edwardstone might well get his delayed Festival prep in the Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.
There was huge disappointment when the weather denied us the much-awaited clash between Edwardstone, last year’s Arkle Chase winner, and reigning Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Energumene at Ascot.
However, happily the BHA opted to restage the race at the home of steeplechasing this week-end, a decision which was met with delight by Alan, who has fingers and toes firmly crossed that Prestbury Park will have seen the last of Jack Frost and can get the green light.
Edwardstone had only two rivals at Ascot, whereas three ‘new’ entries are in the rescheduled race – only offered to those horses who were still engaged at the six-day forfeit stage – meaning that there could be as many as six runners.
The entries include the trailblazing Editeur du Gite, who was given a soft lead in front in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over Christmas – the same race in which Edwardstone and Tom Cannon, who started long odds-on favourites, went their separate ways at the fifth fence.
However, Editeur du Gite relished the challenge and produced a career-best performance for a runaway victory, and I am sure that both Alan and Willie Mullins, trainer of Energumene, will be giving Gary Moore’s runner the utmost respect.
Alan said:”We are definitely planning to be at Cheltenham with Edwardstone and I am so grateful and relieved that the race was carried over from Ascot.
“If the Clarence House had not been restaged and then Newbury, where the Game Spirit Chase was the plan, was also off because of the weather we would have been in big trouble.”
Parts of the Cheltenham course were still frozen on Monday afternoon, but clerk of the course Jon Pullin is hopeful that the weather will change later in the week.
He said:”We are currently frozen following further frosts over the week-end, but the situation looks like improving from Wednesday onwards.
“We are forecast another frost this evening, getting down to minus three or four, but then daytime temperatures are due to rise to plus six or seven.
“We could get down to zero on Thursday and Friday night, but temperatures should be back up again on Saturday, reaching six or even seven degrees. If the forecast is correct, we should be alright, and I certainly hope so as we have nine great races.”