Without a doubt, the strangest trainer switch of the off-season has been the move of Yanworth. Formally trained in the UK by Alan King, the JP McManus owned horse has remained in the same ownership but will now be trained in Ireland by Enda Bolger.
If there is one thing that Bolger is known for it is success in cross country races. This is something that he and JP McManus have had together for a number of years, both in the UK and Ireland. Undoubtedly, many people will have thought that Yanworth needed a change of scenery, and the move to Bolger will certainly throw him into a very different scenario, but what does that mean for his racing?
There is no doubt that Yanworth is extremely talented, and on his day, he is capable of winning a Grade One contest. However, for whatever reason, he hasn’t sparkled much over the past year or so, and looks to be stuck in a rut a little.
The choice of sending him to Bolger, coupled with the trainer’s ability to train winners on cross country circuits, has led many to question whether the move into that sphere is something that could spark Yanworth back into life. He would certainly be made to think in those races. The variety of twists and turns on these courses, as well as the different obstacles could rejuvenate him.
However, it could also be a strategy that doesn’t pay off at all. Yanworth could still struggle just like he did last season. From his three runs, he pulled up in two and finished 13th from 18 runners in the third. Certainly results that are not worthy of his caliber. And if his first race under his new trainer is anything to go by, Bolger has his work cut out for him.
Yanworth ran at Listowel on 12th September and despite the short nature of the race (2m) he was still pulled-up. He never moved from the last position tailed off three out before being pulled up. None of which bodes well for his chances in the coming season.
However, this was just his first run under Enda Bolger and if the trainer can work his magic, the move could ultimately be a masterstroke. In fact, there is a chance that he could turn out to be a danger to Tiger Roll at Cheltenham next March.
If the plan pans out as hoped, there is also the possibility of a Grand National 2020 entry. With just four chase runs under his belt, Yanworth does not stand out as the typical Grand National candidate. And, to be fair, it is a bit of a stretch to mention him as being a potential one at this stage.
However, as has already been said, it seems clear that JP McManus has moved this horse to try and freshen him up and make him think. The Cross Country obstacles would certainly so that, as would a spin around Aintree in the Grand National.
The race is some way off and Yanworth is certainly a project. But Enda Bolger has a nice record with horses like this, and where ever he does end up, he will add an interesting element to any race he contests this season.