Nothing in the King George field to trouble Kauto Star

I just hope Kempton passes an inspection this afternoon, because otherwise St Stephen’s Day is going to have a very bare appearance indeed.

This dreadful weather, both in Britain and Ireland, is gone beyond a joke and is making it impossible for the game to function in any meaningful manner.

It is especially demanding on stable staff, trainers and jockeys. Staff are keeping the gallops open, exercising the horses as best they can and working all sorts of long hours.

Jockeys are having it tough as well. No racing means no income and these are really hard times for so many people.

Everyone who loves racing will want to see the great Kauto Star strutting his stuff at Kempton on Sunday in the King George.

I know I’m biased, but I think Kauto is one of the greatest horses of all time. He has landed Grade 1’s from two miles to three and a quarter miles, left-handed and right-handed and on flat and undulating tracks.

He has won four King Georges, two Gold Cups, two Tingle Creeks, two James Nicholson Chases and a host of other races to boot. Put simply, his record speaks for itself.

I will be watching the race at home and, have to confess, will be feeling a little bit sad. Riding Kauto Star at Kempton on St Stephen’s Day is something to which I always look forward.

It is really hard luck as well on Noel Fehilly missing the ride on such a high-profile horse and so the legendary Tony McCoy gets the nod.

In the end it doesn’t really matter who is aboard, because Kauto Star is as straightforward a ride as you will ever get.

Looking through the race all I can say is that if anyone can tell me who’s going to beat him then I’d like to hear what it is.

My feeling is that if the Kauto Star we know and love appears then the only question to be answered is how far will he win?

Long Run continues to have a big reputation, but hasn’t live up to it and was disappointing when only third to Little Josh in the Paddy Power at Cheltenham.

There seems no good reason why Sizing Europe should cope with Kauto. After all he had the benefit of a previous run at Down Royal and Kauto was still able to beat him decisively.

Forpadydeplasterer likes to finish second, but I think might well be suited by three miles. He has just been proving vulnerable to a bit of speed over shorter trips, but it would be a brave man who could, at the same time, see him lowering Kauto Star’s colours.

Paul Nicholls also runs The Nightingale, a horse I won on at Down Royal on his last appearance. What he would want is for all of the snow to seep into the Kempton turf and make the surface particularly testing.

What do I expect to happen? On the far side, going to the fourth last, perhaps, look out for Kauto to be full of running, cantering over the opposition, on a course where he is bombproof.

Paul has a strong hand through the programme, so let’s have a look at some of the other contests, starting with the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle.

He relies on Escort’men, who has plenty to find, but is not without hope. The last occasion he ran was when I partnered him to defy top weight in a competitive handicap at Chepstow in early October.

He can be very free and, with front-running Overturn in the race, that will suit him admirably. The track is made for Starluck, who is all speed, but I’ve a feeling will be found out by the pace of the race.

Of course Binocular is the one they all have to beat, even if he was a poor third to Peddlers Cross and Starluck on his reappearance at Newbury. I’m told he has come on a bundle for that outing.

Paul’s Toubab should win the first, a novice hurdle. He could hardly have been more impressive when scoring by eight lengths at Haydock.

Toubab was very free last season, but has improved no end since then. Paul fancies him strongly for this.

Aiteen Thirtythree is another live Paul candidate in the Feltham Novice Chase. He gave a great display first time over fences at Newbury, winning by 17 lengths.

Paul and Paul Barber have always been convinced that this was a good horse, but I have taken persuading. Mind you, I never mind being wrong about one who is improving.

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