sport

Grumeti on Champion trail

Alan King is aiming to get two runs into Grumeti in the early part of next year before an attempt at the Stan James Champion Hurdle.

A close third in the Triumph Hurdle last season, Grumeti went on to reverse placings with the winner and Champion contender Countrywide Flame at Aintree.

Max McNeill's gelding went on to have a couple of runs on the Flat in late spring but is behind some of his stablemates on a return to jumping.

"Grumeti had that summer hiccup, but he has made phenomenal progress this past month," the trainer said.

"However, the clock is ticking too fast to enable us to make the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day, so we will look for one race somewhere in January before taking in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton en-route to the Champion."

The stable will run Walkon in this weekend's Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Challenge Gold Cup at Cheltenham, while there are other plans for Kumbeshwar, who finished a respectable second to the astonishing Sprinter Sacre in last weekend's Tingle Creek at Sandown.

"He went up 5lb for Sandown, and I think he deserves a crack at the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over Christmas," King said.

The Barbury Castle trainer hopes Bensalem, a former Cheltenham Festival winner who missed last season, could be back on the track in the second half of January.

Raya Star has been entered for the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday, but King is reluctant to take on Oscar Whisky after his beating at Ascot, while Smad Place could reappear in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot next weekend.