King bypasses George date

Ferdy Murphy has ruled Kalahari King out of the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen's Day.

The Middleham handler had been considering the Christmas showpiece for last year’s Arkle runner-up having missed early season targets at Kelso and Huntingdon.

However, Murphy does not want to lock horns with the likes of Kauto Star over a trip further than he has run over before.

“It would be a big ask first time out, especially with Kauto Star, the form he is in and the way he operates around there and Imperial Commander too,” said Murphy.

“There is going to be a mad gallop on so we are not going to do that.

“We’ve had discussions with Musselburgh and they might put on a race in February, an open handicap, and hopefully he’ll run there and that will decide where we’ll go at Cheltenham with him.

“He’s very versatile with regard to trip, otherwise we wouldn’t have entered him in the King George, he jumps so well and you can put him to sleep out the back.

“With Twist Magic winning the Tingle Creek, Big Zeb not firing and Forpadydeplasterer not going on the ground, it threw the Queen Mother open a bit, especially (with) the doubt about Master Minded.

“That makes it exciting for everybody. The ultimate be-all and end-all for two-mile chasers is the Queen Mother and to have one good enough to be competitive is brilliant.

“That is the way we are aiming and the owners are keen too, which makes my job easier,” he told At The Races.

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