I’m hoping to win the King George at Kempton on Wednesday aboard Kauto Stone, but the more I’ve looked at the race the more convinced I’ve become that Long Run is going to be hard to beat.
Long Run is already a winner of a King George and a Cheltenham Gold Cup and, quite honestly, that form is far in advance of what any other horse brings to the table. Indeed, in the absence of Kauto Star, there is no doubt Long Run would have two King George’s to his credit.
Nicky Henderson’s horse made a fine comeback at Haydock, when I beat him on Silviniaco Conti. He will love the ground and is certain to stay, which is more than can be said for most of the opposition.
Kauto Stone is a half-brother to Kauto Star, but he’s no Kauto Star. He proved he stays three miles when winning a Grade 1 on his reappearance at Down Royal, but realistically needs to step up plenty on that to win now.
I have always been very impressed by Cue Card and regard him as a horse on a par with Al Ferof, which I would have ridden in the King George, if he hadn’t been ruled out by injury for the season.
He was brilliant when winning the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter, but you would have to doubt his ability to stay the trip. To my eyes he’s a fast horse and that final half a mile, in testing conditions, will surely prove a bridge too far.
Riverside Theatre got one of the best rides you will ever see from Barry Geraghty when landing the Ryanair at Cheltenham.
Of course, he’s a decent horse, but I just don’t think is as good as Barry made him look on that occasion.
We could talk about others in the race, but again they all seem to have genuine doubts regarding their stamina.
I’ll be giving it my best shot on Kauto Stone, but will be pleasantly surprised should we finish ahead of Long Run.
I team up with Dodging Bullets in a Grade 1 over hurdles. He’s progressive, winning twice this season, in as many runs, for me at Cheltenham.
He’s fit, jumps well and should handle the ground. But the bottom line is that Dodging Bullets is a novice against seasoned campaigners and has no more than an each-way shout.
I rode Poungach to win at Haydock last month and now we step into Grade 1 company in the Feltham Novice Chase.
He will relish the surface, but I’m just hoping his jumping will be good enough in what is a hot race.
Dynaste is obviously the one to beat and likely to be all of the rage. I thought he was particularly good the first day over fences at Cheltenham, but was less impressed with him next time at Newbury.
But, I suppose, that’s what you do as a jockey when you’re trying to pick holes in an opponent. I’d imagine Tom Scudamore is more than happy to be riding Dynaste.
I’d love to be at Leopardstown on Wednesday to partner Arvika Ligeonniere in a Grade 1 novice chase, but cannot be in two places at the one time.
He gave me a terrific feel when winning the Drinmore in a canter at Fairyhouse and think he is made for two miles round Leopardstown.
I know plenty of people fancy Oscars Well, but if Jessica Harrington’s horse can get by Arvika Ligeonniere then more power to him.
Dessie Hughes’ Our Conor is the one to beat in the Grade 1 juvenile hurdle, having done all that has been asked of him so far.
But Willie Mullins’ ex-French horse Blood Cotil greatly impressed me when winning first time up at Fairyhouse and I feel will be too good for Our Conor.
I’ll be at Leopardstown on Thursday, where there are certainly a couple of other things worth mentioning for the week.
On Friday, for instance, in the Lexus, we are going to finally find out whether Flemenstar will stay three miles.
This is going to be some test of Peter Casey’s charge, especially now that Sir Des Champs stays at home from the King George to take him on.
I’m looking forward to riding Back In Focus on Friday in a Grade 1 over fences. Trip, ground, track just about everything will be perfect for him. s
Hurricane Fly, who has come out of his win at Punchestown in good nick, runs on Saturday and promises to be my highlight of the Christmas.
Oh, and my bet of the week is Sanctuaire in a Grade 2 over fences at Kempton on Thursday, even though I won’t be there to ride him.
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