Midnight Prayer ruled out of Welsh National

Alan King has ruled Midnight Prayer out of Saturday’s rearranged Coral Welsh National at Chepstow.

A winner at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival in the four-mile National Hunt Chase, the 11-year-old was found to be coughing yesterday morning.

Injury restricted him to just one run, in the Hennessy Gold Cup, last season and this campaign has been built around Chepstow.

He was one of the leading fancies for the marathon event and ran a very pleasing race first time out this season when fourth over only two miles and six furlongs.

King had been delighted with him in the build-up to the race but will now have to reassess his plans.

“It’s a bit of a blow but it could be worse, it could be a leg,” said King.

“We found him to be coughing this morning. It’s far too early to think where he might go, we’ll just get him over this first.”

Whether Saturady’s race goes ahead is likely to hinge on a “last minute” decision.

More rain in Wales on Tuesday night has not helped matters, but clerk of the course Keith Ottesen would have been able to give the green light if the meeting was yesterday.

However, even more rain is forecast and the meeting could still be in the balance.

“We had nine millimetres yesterday evening which we could have done without and I didn’t really envisage — I’ve taken the forecasters to task,” Ottesen said yesterday.

“At the moment we’ve got some horrible, deep, heavy ground, but because it hasn’t rained since midnight, we would be racing today.

“The forecasts are almost meaningless. We had some rain over the weekend and I thought that might be it for a couple of days bar a few light showers, but over Monday and Tuesday we had an inch of rain.

“Tonight there is an organised band of rain coming in which will be with us most of the night with another 10 to 12mm which isn’t going to help.

“However, we get another break in the day tomorrow, showers on Friday but the biggest threat we have is though we start off fine on Saturday, if the rain gets organised by midday and continues.

“We’ve all been around long enough to know it’s probably going to be a last minute decision. We are desperate to get this on, we don’t want a blank year, especially when we’ve worked hard to rearrange.”

Meanwhile, King has warned that Yanworth’s participation in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival is “far from set in stone”.

The JP McManus-owned six-year-old is unbeaten in three starts over hurdles and is as low as 8-1 about winning the traditional Festival curtain-raiser on March 15.

But King has not ruled out stepping up trip with Yanworth, which could see him swerve the extended two-mile Supreme in preference to another target.

“Yanworth is in good form at home but I’m not sure where we are going to go with him,” King said.

“I think Barry (Geraghty) is going to have a word with JP and then we will make a plan.

“We could easily step him up in trip on Trials Day at Cheltenham as there is not a lot for him. It’s far from set in stone that he will run in the Supreme.”

King also reiterated his Ryanair Chase winner Uxizandre was out for the season, despite him appearing in some bookmakers lists for the same race in March.

“He’s definitely out,” said King.

“He was never coming back this season, I haven’t seen him since the end of March. I think he’s at Martinstown (McManus’ stud) and I hope we have him back next season.

“It’s nonsense that he’s in the betting for Cheltenham, I made it clear in the summer the horse would not even be in training and it’s unfair on everyone.”

King landed one of the crown jewels of the season when Smad Place won the Hennessy in November.

He went on to finish fourth behind Cue Card in the King George at Kempton but his next target is still undecided.

“Smad Place is fine but we’ve no plans for him yet,” said King.


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Wesley O’ Regan is the General Manager of Popscene in Voodoo Rooms, Cork city. Popscene opened last November and is Cork’s only themed bar that is dedicated to celebrating the best of the 80s and 90s. https://www.facebook.com/PopsceneCork/You've Been Served: Wesley O'Regan, Popscene

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