King weathers the dark storm to find Licht at end of tunnel

It wouldn't be long before another squall came blasting through the hunched grey hills, but Alan King could comfort himself that the low, roiling clouds would soon be chased away. There were times, last season, when his horses seemed to be escorted everywhere by their own, private cumulonimbus. Yesterday, however, he could stand on an outcrop of the Wiltshire Downs and watch them bounding towards him with a common glow of vitality.

Characteristically, it was King himself who drew attention to the fact that Medermit's success at Sandown last weekend was his stable's first at Grade One level in over two years. In such a relentless achiever, that was a startling measure of the travails he endured last season. It was also a reminder that nobody can set King higher standards than he does himself. "It's bloody nice to have Saturday horses again," he said, with emphasis.

As if to prove his point, the first four to emerge panting from the hollow five furlongs below are all being aimed at the Totesport Trophy at Newbury on Saturday. Indeed, the first pair up the gallop are disputing favouritism with Solix, a French import who will be making his first start for Nicky Henderson. But King, while enthusiastic about Salden Licht, warned that Walkon is not certain to run.

The grey was making his first appearance in 21 months when failing by just half a length to give 19lb to the winner in a handicap at Ascot 17 days ago. And King is concerned that Walkon could recoil from that effort.

"In an ideal world I'd like another week," the trainer said. "But he worked fine on Saturday, and looked in quite bright form this morning. I just want to see him squealing and full of himself again. We won't know until he works on Wednesday, and we'll see what Vinny [Conte] says then. He rides him all the time, and knows him inside out."

Conte's wife, incidentally, works for Henderson – and the horses in her care include Zaynar, who beat Walkon into second in the 2009 Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham. Walkon then proceeded to win the Grade One juvenile at Aintree by 13 lengths. Such is the calibre of horse that typically contests this valuable and historic handicap, and it will take a particularly smart effort for either Solix or Salden Licht to shrug off 11st 12lb.

"But the form of Salden Licht's win at Exeter is backing up really well," King said. "The third [Hunterview] bolted up at Musselburgh yesterday, and there have already been a couple of other winners out of the race. He's gone up 10lb, which is not ideal, but we had to get some match practice into him somewhere.

"He was one we knew was under the weather last season – he had to miss the Festival and Aintree – but he did well on the Flat and he's a much better horse this season. He's in wonderful form."

King's other candidates are Iolith, who steps out of novice company after wins at Kempton and Taunton, and The Betchworth Kid, useful on the Flat but a disappointment at Kempton last month. "He's an enigma," King shrugged. "He frightened the life out of himself at Kempton, when he all but came down at the third, and never jumped a twig after that. But he could just go and run a stormer. He's very hard to win with, but has lots of ability and a race like this could bring out the best in him."

As for Iolith, King acknowledges that he must improve. "One or two seem to think he's not very well handicapped, and they may have a fair point," he said. "But on what he shows at home, he might be. He was a Group horse on the Flat in Germany, after all."

King's entries for Exeter the next day include Smad Place and Bensalem. The owners of the latter are keen to return to fences at the Festival, after his encouraging comeback over timber 10 days ago – and he certainly has unfinished business in one of the handicaps there, having fallen two out when going well last year. "And we'd only just got Smad Place off antibiotics when he was beaten at Chepstow," King said. "We'd really nursed him there. I still think he's a very good horse." Even his Sunday horses, it would seem, have the wind back in their sails.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Overlady (3.25 Sedgefield)

Returns from a long absence but has won over course and distance, and proved rather better than this mark over fences. Stable continues to flourish.



Next best

Deejan (4.45 Southwell)

Showed up well on first visit here last week and can reverse form with the runner-up, having tired only late after a three-month absence.



One to watch

Direct Flo's (Kim Bailey) midfield finish at Wincanton last week hinted that she might prosper over longer trips.



Where the money's going

Solix is again in demand for the Totesport Trophy at Newbury on Saturday, now 6-1 from 7-1 with the sponsors.

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

EBD Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Science Teacher Greater Manchester

Humanities Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Humanities teacher required for ...

English Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: ENGLISH TEACHER REQUIRED - Humbe...

Chemistry Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: We are looking for a Qualified C...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits