Allmankind bidding to show Cheltenham sparkle in National Spirt

Allmankind can book his place in the Queen Mother Champion Chase if he satisfactorily comes through his prep run over hurdles at Fontwell on Sunday.

The six-year-old takes on five rivals in the Royalequestrian Bedding And Manor Elite Horsebox National Spirit Hurdle, the two-miles-three-furlong feature on a seven-race card.

Allmankind, who will be partnered by Harry Skelton, has won five of his seven starts over fences, including a Grade Two at Aintree in October.

However, he has not been seen since early December when beaten 31 lengths by First Flow in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.

Trainer Dan Skelton says he needed time to recover and is thriving again ahead of a switch to a sphere in which he has won three of six starts.

“Allmankind is back over hurdles and he doesn’t have a penalty,” said Skelton. “The trip is good for him, the race is worth a lot of money and he is in good form.

“He didn’t actually come out of Huntingdon all that well. He wasn’t at his best that day, obviously.

“He ran flat and he wasn’t great afterwards. I wasn’t happy with him. He was obviously off-colour that day and I didn’t know that at the time – if I had known, he wouldn’t have been there.

“But now he is happy and healthy and we schooled him over hurdles on Thursday morning with Harry, and we are happy with him. He is taking on some very good hurdlers, though.

“I think Tim (Gredley, owner) is keen to run him in the Queen Mother, so we will have a look.

“He should go well and the track won’t bother him at all. When he is on form, he’s a good horse.”

In a quality line-up, the Paul Nicholls-trained Monmiral, who won the Grade One Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree last April, returns after suffering his sole defeat in five outings over hurdles, having finished fifth in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle in November.

Cheltenham International Hurdle winner Guard Your Dreams represents Nigel Twiston-Davies, while Gary Moore, who won this race five years ago with Camping Ground, saddles Botox Has.

Darver Star, who was third to Epatante in the Champion Hurdle two years ago, makes the journey from Gavin Cromwell’s Navan yard.

The 10-year-old, who holds an entry in the Stayers’ Hurdle, renews rivalry with Brewin’upastorm, who beat him a length and a quarter in deep ground at Lingfield in January.

Cromwell is hoping for a more truly-run race this time. He said: “He is going there in good form. It is a very competitive race, but hopefully he can be thereabouts.

“He probably got racing a little bit too soon at Lingfield. It was a messy race on heavy ground and hopefully the pace will be better this time. I certainly wouldn’t be confident, but I’d be hopeful he’ll go well.

“The sharper track should not be a problem, but as for the Stayers’ Hurdle, we will look at it after Fontwell.”

Darver Star (left) and Brewin’upastorm clash again at Fontwell
Darver Star (left) and Brewin’upastorm clash again at Fontwell (Steven Paston/PA)

Brewin’upastorm bids to repeat last year’s win in the race for trainer Olly Murphy.

He meets Darver Star on similar terms and even though winning his fifth race over hurdles from 11 starts at Lingfield, Murphy, feels the nine-year-old can perform better than he did at the Surrey track.

“Brewin’upastorm seems in really good nick,” said Murphy. “He has had a really good year and when he is good, he is very, very good and he looks like he will have his ground at Fontwell.

“He is very versatile regarding the ground. He has a penalty of weight to give away to most of those in the race, but he handles the track and trip.

“He hasn’t had a lot of mileage this season – his races have been well spaced out and I don’t think he was at his best at Lingfield by a long way. He was very cold through the mid-part of the race.

“I think that wind surgery last summer has probably helped him, but more so his confidence is higher.

“I know he had a fall at Cheltenham in January and lacked a little bit of confidence though the mid-part of his race at Lingfield, but hopefully that will have put him spot on again.

“I thought he was brilliant at Cheltenham and never missed a beat until falling, and that slow ground at Lingfield would have helped his confidence 100 per cent.”

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