Silver Streak to miss Ascot in favour of Kempton's Christmas Hurdle

2020 Christmas Hurdle winner Silver Streak is set to return to Kempton Park on December 27th after trainer Evan Williams said he would bypass Saturday’s Betfair Exchange Hurdle at Ascot.

The eight-year-old has not jumped with his usual fluency on his last two starts, being beaten at odds-on in a Kempton Listed contest on his reappearance, before being an eight length fourth in last month's Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

Llancarfan trainer Williams relished the 2020 festive season, with big-race success in both the Christmas Hurdle and in the Welsh National at Chepstow with Secret Reprieve.

Hopeful that both his stable stars remain on course to defend their respective titles, he admitted that both will take their engagements more in hope than expectation.

Williams said: "Silver Streak will go to the Christmas Hurdle. I scratched him from Saturday. He will go to Kempton Park on Boxing Day. I haven't worked him but he will work this week, and the plan is for him to defend his crown.

"He jumped terribly at Newcastle. He jumped like his legs were tied together - his jumping, the last two runs, has been an issue and I can't say I have found the reason why.

"I just think he is getting older and wiser, and the ground he has been running on, when it is on the soft side, it has become very difficult for him to operate.

"I don't think that is an excuse for his jumping, he just hasn't been on his A game this year at all.

"However, we are going back there, just because the track suits him and that is where he has shown his best form."

Stablemate Secret Reprieve, who justified favouritism to take the extended three-and-three-quarter-mile Coral Welsh National under Adam Wedge last season, is second favourite to follow up on the same day - despite not having a run since.

"Secret Reprieve will hopefully go straight to Chepstow," Williams said.

"I wouldn't say we are on course, because we haven't had a prep run.

"I would dearly have loved to have got a prep run under his belt and I presume we will just use it as a stepping stone to dates we know after Christmas.

"It has been very tricky. We have not been able to get a run into him. The lack of rain has definitely had implications not just for him, but for many trainers and horses."

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