Wiltshire-based trainer Neil King seeks a first Grade 1 victory on Saturday in the Coral Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury Racecourse with stable star Lookaway.  


The sole Grade 1 of the National Hunt season at Newbury saw nine declared for the 2m4½f contest with a total prize fund of £85,000, an increase of £25,000 from 2022. Total prize money on offer across the day is up by £39,000 compared to last year.


Lookaway, last seen when finishing second behind Iberico Lord in the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham will step up to Grade 1 company for the first time in the Coral Challow Hurdle. The winner of the Grade 2 Sharp Novices’ Hurdle started the season with back-to-back successes at Uttoxeter before stepping into graded company over hurdles. Trainer Neil King has been delighted with how his stable star has been since Cheltenham: “I thought we had the best handicapped horse in England going into the Greatwood but Mr. Henderson had one better, but he ran a terrific race to finish second. He’s been in very good form since, we just gave him a little break afterwards to get ready for Newbury but we had plenty of time on our hands, so he is raring to go now.”


A Grade 2 winner over 2m½f, King is looking forward to stepping the six-year-old up in trip for the Challow Hurdle: “After the Greatwood, both Jack (Quinlan) and I feel that stepping him up in trip might be the way forward to seek out a bit of improvement in him and as a Grade 1 we need to improve. It looks a competitive renewal, but he deserves his place in the line-up, I’m sure if he was trained by Mr. Henderson or Mr. Nicholls he would be half the price that he is.”


With the going currently good-to-soft, soft in places at Newbury, King has no concerns regarding conditions: “Newbury should be an ideal track, a lovely big galloping track, we are lucky that he is versatile ground wise so we should be absolutely fine with conditions.”


For a yard seeking their first Grade 1 victory, all hopes lie with the front running Lookaway this weekend: “We came close with Lil Rockerfeller in the Stayers’ Hurdle, we haven’t had a chance to win a Grade 1 since those days. Grade 1’s are important to us all but as a small stable it is extremely important to us.”


Willmount (N.Henderson) currently heads the betting with sponsors Coral following a 13 length victory at Newbury last time out in the 2m½f novice hurdle. The Seven Barrows team are also set to be represented by Brave Jen who will be partnered by James Bowen, fresh from a maiden Grade 1 success on Boxing Day. Having won the race five times previously, Champion trainer Paul Nicholls bids for a fourth consecutive victory with the unbeaten under rules Farnoge and Grade 2 winner Captain Teague. The line-up is completed by three Novices’ stepping into graded company for the first time, the unbeaten Johnnywho for Jonjo O’Neill, Masaccio for Alan King and the Ben Pauling trained The Jukebox Man. Bullets Hill looks to bounce back after finishing down the field in the Grade 2 Newton Novices’ Hurdle for trainer Ella Pickard.


Coral’s David Stevens commented on declarations for the Coral Challow Novices’ Hurdle: “Willmount made an extremely impressive hurdling debut at Newbury last month, and as a result of that victory, he’s clear favourite to take the step up to Grade 1 level in his stride in Saturday’s feature race.”

To watch the Neil King trained Lookaway in action ahead of Saturday’s Grade 1 Coral Challow Novices’ Hurdle, click the video below.



**Coral Challow Hurdle

13-8 Willmount, 10-3 Captain Teague, 5 Johnnywho, 13-2 Lookaway, 8 Farnoge, 12 Masaccio, 14 The Jukebox Man, 66 Brave Jen, 150 Bullets Hill


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