Alan King is keen to let Edwardstone “do the talking” as he prepares to take on old foe Jonbon and red-hot favourite El Fabiolo in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on Wednesday.

Having saddled the currently sidelined Energumene to claim back-to-back victories in the day two feature, Willie Mullins will have high hopes of making it a hat-trick with El Fabiolo, who won the Arkle at last season’s Festival and is six from six over fences overall.

The horse rated his biggest threat is Nicky Henderson’s Jonbon, who has won four of his five starts since finishing best of the rest behind El Fabiolo 12 months ago, but was turned over at prohibitive odds by Elixir De Nutz in the rescheduled Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham in late January.

Edwardstone, winner of the 2022 Arkle for Alan King, was no match for Jonbon in either the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham or when defending his crown in the Tingle Creek at Sandown earlier in the season, but bounced back to winning ways with a brilliant display in last month’s Game Spirit Chase at Newbury.

While respectful of the opposition, King, who won the 2007 Champion Chase with Voy Por Ustedes, feels his charge is as good as he ever was at the age of 10 and is looking forward to the challenge.

“He’s absolutely fine, he did his last bit of strong work yesterday and schooled this morning, all seems well,” said the Barbury Castle handler.

“Most of the hard work is done, he’ll have a little breeze at the weekend but nothing too strenuous.

“Touch wood we’ve had a beautiful, clear preparation. He’s not been overly raced and he’s certainly working as well as he’s ever done, so we’re happy.

“No disrespect to the horses we beat at Newbury, but this is a different ballgame. I have great respect for the two favourites and we’ll just let Edwardstone do the talking.”

El Fabiolo, Jonbon and Edwardstone are three of eight horses still in contention for the Champion Chase following the confirmation stage.

Mullins is also set to saddle Gentleman De Mee, with Henry de Bromhead’s Captain Guinness – runner-up to Energumene in last year’s renewal – also set to make the trip from Ireland.

Jonbon’s Clarence House conqueror Elixir De Nutz (Joe Tizzard), Boothill (Harry Fry) and Funambule Sivola (Venetia Williams) complete the octet.

Tom Cannon is confident Edwardstone can play a major role in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase if reproducing his resurgent Game Spirit heroics at the Cheltenham Festival.

Alan King’s star chaser bounced back to his very best to produce a blistering front-running display at Newbury earlier this month, a victory that gave the Barbury Castle handler his second win in the Grade Two event alongside Sceau Royal.

It was Edwardstone’s first triumph since the 2022 Tingle Creek and having snapped a six-race losing run, the 10-year-old is now the general 8-1 third-favourite for the Champion Chase behind Willie Mullins’ El Fabiolo and regular adversary Jonbon.

Cannon said: “He must have put himself right in the mix. Hopefully he will be a bit closer to Jonbon given a change of tactics and anything more than that is a bonus, I think.

“If he turns up in the same form as he did at Newbury, we know he acts round Cheltenham so we keep our fingers crossed to get there in A1 condition and anything after that is in the lap of the gods.”

Edwardstone gave Cannon one of the biggest days of his career when waltzing to Arkle glory at the Festival in 2022, but there was disappointment 12 months later when sent off 15-8 second-favourite for the Champion Chase, tailing home in fifth and beaten 64 lengths by an imperious Energumene.

However, the jockey feels Edwardstone is heading for his second bite of the Champion Chase cherry in much better form and has been extremely encouraged by the feel his partner has given him throughout the current campaign.

“He probably wasn’t going into it in as good a form as he is this year, last year. So if he can continue the form he is in now, hopefully he will be thereabouts,” continued Cannon.

“He’s been a different horse since he has come back in this year. The first race at Cheltenham in the Shloer Chase he felt back to himself and the couple of times he had run at Cheltenham the season before he had never really picked the bridle up.

“In the Shloer, he picked the bridle up and pulled my arms off like he used to and then obviously ran very well in the Tingle Creek. Two-mile-four wasn’t to his liking at Kempton, but back to two miles at Newbury seemed to suit him, so you have to look forward to it (the Champion Chase).

“If we can get into a nice rhythm, then the best horse will win at the end of the day.”

Edwardstone cruised to victory in the Betfair Exchange Game Spirit Chase at Newbury.

The 11-10 favourite under Tom Cannon, Alan King’s gelding made all of the running in the four-runner Grade Two.

His significant lead looked to lessen slightly with half of the race completed, but the gap soon widened again and was further increased when Boothill fell in the home straight.

Amarillo Sky did not finish either, leaving Funambule Sivola to trail home as the only other finisher some 40 lengths behind.

Edwardstone was notching his first victory since landing the 2022 Tingle Creek Chase and Coral responded to his sparkling success by cutting him to 8-1 from 14s for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

Edwardstone bids to get his season back on track in the Betfair Exchange Game Spirit Chase at Newbury.

Winner of the Arkle at Cheltenham and the Tingle Creek at Sandown two years ago, Alan King’s stable star kicked off this season by chasing home the Nicky Henderson-trained Jonbon in successive races.

As a result, Edwardstone was stepped up in trip for last month’s Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton, but faded tamely after racing keenly and came home a well beaten last of four finishers.

King believes the decision to hold up the 10-year-old in a bid to conserve his stamina may have backfired and he is looking forward to seeing him return to two miles on Saturday, albeit in testing conditions.

“All is well, he seemed to come out of that run (at Kempton) in good form and he’s done plenty of work since,” said the Barbury Castle handler.

“I need to get him out and the ground is the same for all of them. He’s got form on heavy ground, I’m not saying he’s at his best on it, but he has gone on it and I’m very keen to run him.

“Kempton was disappointing and we don’t really know why, whether we disappointed him by taking him back, I’m not sure, but I’m inclined to put a line through that and we’ll see what happens on Saturday.”

Edwardstone is entered in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase at next month’s Cheltenham Festival but King added: “I’m not even thinking about Cheltenham, I want to get Saturday out of the way and then we’ll see.”

His biggest threat this weekend appears to be Boothill, who won a couple of lucrative handicaps at Ascot in the autumn before falling as favourite for Kempton’s Desert Orchid Chase over the Christmas period.

Trainer Harry Fry has been pleased with his nine-year-old since, but will check on the ground before confirming his participation on Saturday.

He said: “He seems in good form with himself, he was thankfully none the worse for his fall and has schooled well since.

“It was obviously frustrating at Kempton, but we get to go again and this has always really been the plan. We are just mindful though that conditions could be testing enough, so we’ll just see when we get there how it’s riding and go from there.

“We took him out earlier in the season on heavy ground at Sandown in the Tingle Creek, so that’s the only slight reservation I have.

“He’s got form on soft, but heavy is a different ballgame.”

Editeur Du Gite won that Desert Orchid Chase in December, but subsequently finished last of five when defending his crown in the rescheduled Clarence House at Cheltenham, and Gary Moore has indicated he is likely to sidestep the race due to the ground.

The Venetia Williams-trained Funambule Sivola is out to secure a third successive victory in this Grade Two contest, but will need to bounce back from a disappointing run of form.

With Calico declared a non-runner, the field is completed by Joe Tizzard’s Amarillo Sky, who makes his first competitive appearance since finishing fourth in last year’s Clarence House.

Tom Cannon is optimistic the step up in trip will help Edwardstone return to winning ways in Saturday’s Coral Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton.

In two outings this season over two miles, Alan King’s charge has been no match for Jonbon but he did get appreciably closer to him in the Tingle Creek than on his seasonal reappearance in the Shloer Chase.

Saturday will be the 10-year-old’s first run over two and a half miles since a hurdles effort back in April 2021, but Cannon feels it is the right move.

“I think it is a logical move, as Edwardstone is not getting younger and now is as good a time as ever to step him up in trip,” he said.

“Although he has not run over this distance over fences, he ran well over two and a half miles over hurdles when he was third at Aintree (in 2021).

“We are going back to slightly calmer waters having run in the Tingle Creek last time, but there are still some good horses in this race.

“It is still a competitive race, so he will have to be at his best to win.

“All his best runs have been around Sandown and he definitely improved for the run at Cheltenham in the Tingle Creek.

“I was more than happy with his run. It was as good a run as he had put in for a long time.”

Cannon went on: “He felt back to his best and, fingers crossed, he can continue that form going forwards.

“He has not been over-raced and he has been well managed throughout his career, which has been a big help.

“He had a jump last Thursday at home and he jumped very well, so there is no problem in that department. He seemed fresh and very well, so I couldn’t be happier with him.”

Alan King has identified the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton as a possible next port of call for Edwardstone following his admirable defence of the Tingle Creek on Saturday.

The nine-year-old was a brilliant winner of the Sandown showpiece last season and returned to the Esher track to defend his crown over the weekend.

Edwardstone had plenty on his plate as he looked to turn the tables on Jonbon following their clash in last month’s Shloer Chase at Cheltenham – and while he again came off second best, he did at least close the gap on Nicky Henderson’s star chaser.

King immediately ruled out an appearance over three miles in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, but the Barbury Castle handler is keen to step his charge up in trip on his next start.

“He ran very well and has come out of it well and we’ll probably look to step him up to two-and-a-half in the new year,” he said.

“He’s definitely not going for the King George, but there is the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton in January. We’ll have a look at that and, whether he goes there or not, I think his next run will be over two-and-a-half, as it will give us an idea what we’re doing with him.”

With the Queen Mother Champion Chase already shaping up to be a straight shootout between Jonbon and his formidable Irish rival El Fabiolo, the Ryanair Chase could end up being Edwardstone’s Cheltenham Festival target if he can prove his stamina in the meantime.

King added: “You’ve obviously got Jonbon and the horse in Ireland and you wouldn’t really look forward to taking those two on.”

Alan King was pleased to “erase the memory” of Edwardstone’s no-show in the Champion Chase in March when chasing home Jonbon in the Shloer Chase on Sunday.

King now has to decide, with the help of connections, whether to take on Nicky Henderson’s Jonbon again in the Tingle Creek at Sandown on December 9 or step him up in trip for the Peterborough Chase the following day.

King has been musing for some time now that Edwardstone may need further than two miles to be seen at his best.

He said on his website, ”I thought it was a smashing run, and it was such a relief to see Edwardstone erase the memory of last March.

“Cheltenham is still a mystery, but we can now look forward and it is a case of deciding whether to have a rematch with Jonbon when we defend our Tingle Creek crown on December 9 or wait 24 hours so we can step him up to two and a half miles for the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.”

Tom Cannon cannot wait to be reunited with Edwardstone when he makes his seasonal reappearance in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday.

Alan King’s nine-year-old has shared many memorable days with the rider, none more so than their decisive Arkle victory at the Cheltenham Festival in 2022.

Last season included another Grade One success, this time in the Tingle Creek, and the bay was beaten just a head in the Clarence House in January.

There was no repeat Cheltenham Festival success as Edwardstone posted an uncharacteristic performance in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, but Cannon is happy to draw a line through that run as the duo return to the same track at the weekend.

He said: “Edwardstone has been good at home. I schooled him on Monday, and I schooled him last Monday as well. He seems very fresh and well in himself and I’m looking forward to Sunday.

“It is going to be a good race, but he doesn’t have any easy races now with the level he is at. He was meant to run in this race last season, but the ground was on the quicker side so he swerved it. He won first time out last year and he will be ready to go and do his best.

“He enjoyed it on Monday when I gave him a jump and he is a pleasure to have around and be involved with. He is a magnificent horse, not just to sit on but to look at as well.

“You get some horses that are good that might be small, but when you get on top of him it is like riding a horse into battle. He is a big strong brute of a horse that has got all the power in the right places.”

The Shloer Chase is run over a trip of two miles, Edwardstone’s usual trip, but there are discussions about stepping up in distance at a later point in the season and Cannon believes connections may find this outing helpful in making that decision.

“His pedigree suggests he will get further, and he ran further than two miles over hurdles and ran well. On his day he is a very quick two-miler which he showed in the Tingle Creek last season,” Cannon said.

“He probably wasn’t at his best after that, but we will see how we go in the race on Sunday and go from there.

“As he is getting bit older now, and with a few younger horses coming through, it might give us options if we go up further in trip.

“This is a case of testing the water with him and it is a nice place to go. I’m sure this will answer a few questions about where he will go for the rest of the season.”

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