BARBURY Castle trainer Alan King is hoping to return from Aintree’s three-day meeting with at least one winner.
King returned from last month’s Cheltenham Festival with one winner courtesy of Medinas’ triumph in the Coral Cup and says he will be satisfied with a similar return from Aintree.
Today King has L’Unique running in the Juvenile Hurdle and Raya Star entered in the Aintree Hurdle and believes both could be in with a chance of success in their respective races.
Raya Star will be ridden by Swindon jockey Wayne Hutchinson and takes on fancied rivals 2010 Aintree Hurdle winner Oscar Whiskey, Grandouet and Zarkandar.
However, King believes Raya Star can produce the goods against the leading pack, saying: “We have Raya Star going for the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle, and, though the bookies make him a 25-1 chance, our fellow goes there fresh and well.
“Raya Star faces a big ask, but I have thought that many times in the past and he has repeatedly surprised me.
“We purposely missed Cheltenham as we felt this two and a half miles would suit him, and he has enjoyed a nice break since Wincanton.
“This will probably be his last race before he goes chasing next season.
Hutchinson will also take the ride on L-Unique, who also missed the Cheltenham Festival, but King believes his charge is raring to get back in action at Aintree.
He added: “We also run L’Unique against the boys in the Anniversary Hurdle, which we won 12 months ago with Grumeti.
“She, too, missed Cheltenham, but she has benefited from the extra three weeks and I could not be happier with her.
“I am sure that her best days are in front of her and she could be pretty exciting next season, but I will be disappointed if she is not in the first three.”
King’s Smad Place meanwhile will also be in action at Aintree in the Liverpool Hurdle on Grand National Day this Saturday.
Smad Place returned from a break to finish a gallant third in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival for the second time in succession.
The six-year-old was travelling powerfully when unseating his rider in last season’s Liverpool Hurdle, which was won by Big Buck’s.
King added: “He seems to have come out of Cheltenham fine and we are happy enough with him.
“I was very pleased with his performance in the World Hurdle.”