Edwardstone has time on his side as he recovers from small setback

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The cards have not fallen Edwardstone’s way since our Arkle Chase hero made a brilliant seasonal reappearance in the Tingle Creek at Sandown in early December.

We had all put the Christmas nightmare at Kempton behind us – Edwardstone and Tom Cannon got their wires crossed, causing Barbury’s stable-star to make an early exit in the Desert Orchid – when, despite turning over Irish hotpot Energumene in the Clarence House at Cheltenham, he got run out of it close home by 14-1 shot Editeur du Gite.

Yet this afternoon came drama number three, with Edwardstone’s latest hiccup being plastered all over the various racing websites, following Alan’s revelation in his Racing Post Weekender column that the horse had “suffered a small setback”.

Betfair were quick to ease Edwardstone a point for next month’s Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, but Alan stresses that he is not overly concerned and that provided there are no more scares in the five-weeks between now and the Festival, he remains hopeful that Edwardstone will be lining up for a rematch with Energumene for the highlight on day two of the best four days in jump racing.

Alan said:”Edwardstone came back with a bruised foot after the Clarence House and, unfortunately, was lame for most of last week.

“Happily, x-rays revealed no further damage and we were able to put a shoe back on him on Monday, though it took five or six days to get him sound again

“Provided there are no further problems, then it is not a concern. He has had a little niggle, but it is only a small setback and time is on our side.”

In contrast, Father Time is catching up with Sceau Royal, who has been a wonderful servant over the last seven years. But at the age of 11 he was always in top gear to keep tabs on the leaders in the Grade 1 Dublin Chase at Leopardstown last Sunday, though he brought home 15,000 Euros for finishing third place, so we have no complaints there.

Alan still has Sceau Royal entered in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham and the old boy might well need the two and a half miles nowadays, but equally he could miss the meeting altogether and wait for Aintree.

“I was happy enough with Sceau Royal,” confessed Alan, and, having made a bad mistake at the first fence down the back, the veteran did well to hang on in there for the bronze medal behind Gentleman de Mee, who proved what a good horse he is when beating Edwardstone at Aintree last April.

Alan added:”Daryl (Jacob) felt that Sceau Royal had lost a bit of speed, but he ran a solid race, and, though I have not yet spoken to Anthony Bromley about it, I have an inkling that he might be happier over hurdles these days. He’s now safely back in the yard, which is great,”

We have a few sound chances for a celebration on Wednesday, with Passionate Pursuit likely to start favourite for the novice hurdle at Ludlow, despite taking on the boys. She would have won at Wincanton on Boxing Day had she not unseated at the second last, and Alan, who reports that she schooled well on Monday, feels the fast ground will suit her well.

At Ludlow we introduce Open Champion in the Juvenile Hurdle. He showed plenty of promise on the Flat with Roger Varian, and Alan has been pleased with what he has been seeing in the mornings, so it will be interesting how he shapes on his first run for us.

Technology also has solid claims in the maiden hurdle on the Shropshire course. The quick ground might be a concern, but there was a lot to like about his effort at Chepstow over Christmas, and he looks worth a second look.

Forget The Way ran well at both Fakenham and Plumpton so must have claims in the maiden hurdle at Southwell, while at Kempton we’d be crazy to rule out the all-weather legend who is Rainbow Dreamer. He will be trying to win their two-miler for the third time but will need to reverse recent Southwell form with to the useful Berkshire Rocco.