Anthony Honeyball: Regal Encore ready for Cheltenham Festival test
Anthony Honeyball rates Regal Encore as the best horse he has trained – and the handler from Mosterton near Crewkerne wants the unbeaten five-year-old to prove his profound ability on the Festival stage.
The King’s Theatre gelding was diagnosed with a minor injury after sluicing up in Chepstow bumper during October and has not appeared since.
But Honeyball says the 14-1 shot is now ready for his Grade One test in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
However, there is a ‘but’ in the equation. Honeyball said: “Regal Encore is coming on well and is heading to Cheltenham – but we might prefer the £50,000 sales’ race at Newbury on March 23. We will do whatever we feel is best for the horse.
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“It would be great to have a runner with a really strong chance at Cheltenham but we don’t need to run him there.”
The McCoy factor could have a bearing. The horse runs in the JP McManus colours and the owner’s regular jockey McCoy rode at Chepstow.
But McManus has another Irish-trained entry and if connections think Drumlee is the better animal, AP would partner that one.
Honeyball tracks Ballybough Pat in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle.
“He was third in the Grade One Challow Hurdle at Newbury over Christmas and I would like to think he will be in the mix coming down the hill.”