Edwardstone in cruise control at Kempton

Edwardstone ran out a most impressive winner of the Ladbrokes Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park, cementing his position in the betting for the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in March.

A Grade One winner last time out at Sandown, Alan King’s charge was dropping down in class for this contest at Grade Two level – and as a result was giving away 5lb to his three rivals.

Bryony Frost sent Solo into an early lead and with some fluent jumping tried to stretch the field out.

Edwardstone made a bit of a hash of the first fence, but was soon back on an even keel for Tom Cannon and adopting his usual stalking role at the rear.

As Solo began to weaken, Do Your Job hit the front seemingly full of running with Edwardstone in behind.

But as he had at Sandown, Edwardstone once again displayed a taking turn of foot and in a matter of strides the race was over.

He flew the last and the 8-15 favourite was ridden out to come home a 10-length winner.

A delighted King said: “This wasn’t really part of the plan, but he came out of Sandown really well and I started thinking ‘it’s two months until the Kingmaker at Warwick and if we have a setback or a freeze-up in early February and we haven’t run since early December, that might be a mistake’.

“I thought we’d come here and it would be a bit more practice for him. Now he can have his break and his (flu) vaccination and hopefully back for the Kingmaker.

“Bar the first fence I thought he jumped very well. He just ballooned it a little bit, but that can happen off the back of running at Sandown.

“He gets the trip very well. You’d have thought on his pedigree he should be running over two and a half or three miles, but for the moment we’ll stick to two.”

Coral cut the seven-year-old to 9-2 from 6-1 for the Arkle and make him their second-favourite behind the Willie Mullins-trained Ferny Hollow (6-4).

King added: “It’s exciting. It’s going back to the old days when we had Voy Por Ustedes and My Way De Solzen. We haven’t had one as good as this for a bit.

“The Arkle is his only target (at Cheltenham) – it will be the Arkle or nowhere. A break, the Kingmaker and then if that goes well, hopefully the Arkle.

“I’m just relived we’ve got today out of the way.”

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