ALAN KING INTERVIEW - 15/02/2017

Alan King's Barbury Castle stables in Wiltshire have seen some big occasions at Cheltenham over the years and this year he goes there having some real live chances at big race glory which he hasn't tasted since 2015.  Alan kindly took time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about Cheltenham and the future for his current string.

  
I always remember your partnership with Choc Thornton in 2007 but if you had to pick one moment as a highlight of your career so far what would that be?
 
There isn’t one moment in particular to be honest.  All Cheltenham wins are special and obviously Katchit winning the Champion Hurdle, Voy Por (Ustedes) the Champion Chase and My Way (De Solzen) the Arkle were great performances and then ofcourse there was the Royal Ascot win with Primitivo but it would be unfair of me to single out one single performance. 
 
 
You have been training horses now for 18 years or so I believe, are you still as passionate about the sport now as you were in the beginning?
 
Most definitely.  I’d say I enjoy it now just as much as I did when I very first started.
 
 
Apart from Cheltenham, what course and meeting do you look forward to most?
 
I love Royal Ascot.  I’ve been going there now for 25 years with the exception of when it moved to York and I absolutely love it, the atmosphere there is amazing.
 
 
On to this years’ Festival I have to say I’m very excited about the prospect of Yanworth in the Champion Hurdle and the manner in which he won the Christmas Hurdle proved just how good he is.  How is he and would you say he your most looked forward to horse over the festival?
 
You’d have to say yes, he’s the highest profile horse and providing he gets through this weekend unscathed it’ll be all systems go.  I wouldn’t rule out Sceau Royal either, he’s in excellent form and wouldn’t go there without a chance either.
 
 
Uxizandre was your last winner at Cheltenham, would you put anyone off having a flutter on him again in the Ryanair assuming that’s the route he goes down?
 
Ofcourse he was Tony McCoy’s last winner at Cheltenham too.  Not at all.  He’s still entered in the Champion Chase but he won’t go down that route whilst Douvan is in there so the Ryanair is his target.  He would have to come on for his reappearance which I thought was a cracking run.  Better ground would help his cause and I’ve been thrilled with him so I certainly wouldn’t put anyone off.
 
 
Messire Des Obeaux looks a horse of extreme talent, the form of whom has been franked with Ballyandy winning at the weekend.  Is the Neptune his most likely target and do you think he can take that prize before maybe embarking on a career over the bigger obstacles?
 
He’s a cracking horse with plenty of ability.  The Neptune is almost certainly his destination and would only be re-routed should we have a very wet March in which case we would go for the Supreme but the Neptune is his intended target.  He will definitely go chasing next year.  We’ve not schooled him over fences yet but he looks a proper Chasing type and you’d be surprised if jumping a fence would be an issue.  He has a very bright future.
 
  
Which of your horses would be your best chances for the week?
 
You’ve already mentioned Yanworth, Messire (Des Obeaux) and Uxizandre who all have good chances.  We have three or four in the Fred Winter (Lexington Law, Cosmeapolitan, Fidux, Dino Velvet) could go very well but we don’t know the handicap marks yet.  Coeur De Lion will more than likely go to the Triumph but whether he’s quite ready for that level yet remains to be seen.
 
 
If you had the pick of a horse not from your stable for a race at Cheltenham what horse would that be?
 
That’s easy, it’ll be Altior.  I was very impressed with him at the weekend and he’s very exciting.
  
Do you think Altior would put it up to Douvan?
 
It’s too early to say really, I don’t think we’ll see that match up until next year at some point if we’re lucky but it would be a cracking race wouldn’t it.
 
 
If you had your last pound and had to turn it in to a nice sum with a big price who would you put it on?
 
I wouldn’t put it on anything as I don’t bet.
 
 
Fair enough, will any of your horses more likely be targeted at Aintree rather than Cheltenham?
 
Ziga Boy will be aimed at the National now so obviously he won’t be going to Cheltenham.  Master Blueyes is one that will probably skip Cheltenham and go straight to Aintree.
 
Master Blueyes looks another cracking prospect.
 
Yes he is and I think the track at Aintree should really suit him
 
 
You have some excellent young horses at your disposal now with the likes of Elgin, Top Tug, Sceau Royal, River Frost amongst others.  Which of your young horses would you say are ones to stay on the right side of next season?
 
You’ve named a fair few of them there, they are all good horses and have potential.  One thing we have been short of this season is Novice Chasers so that is something that we’ll work on for next season.
 
 
  
Thank you very much for your time Alan and all the best for Cheltenham and the future.