Keep faith in Kicking King

ISN'T it smashing that Kicking King is going to be involved in a real race at Haydock on Saturday.

There's no doubt the only reason the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner is heading for this particular contest is the carrot of the £1m bonus.

The other legs are the King George at Kempton at Christmas and the Gold Cup itself and, as he was sure to be challenging for those two prizes anyway, it makes sense he should take in Haydock on the way.

No matter how wealthy you are a million in the back pocket is not to be sniffed at and there is little doubt, on all known evidence, that Kicking King is best placed to have a good go at landing this whopping prize.

Will he win on Saturday? Well, if he doesn't it really is going to toss the proverbial cat in among the pigeons and blow the Gold Cup Market wide open.

That shock defeat behind War Of Attrition at Punchestown has set the alarm bells ringing, if only in a very minor way.

But, as we have said here before, the fact he only managed to beat Pizarro by a short head into third spot makes little sense. We know he is a far better horse than Pizarro and so the logical explanation for the Punchestown setback is that he was a fair way short of being fully wound up.

Tom Taaffe went on record this week that we can expect to see the real Kicking King at Haydock and I think we should take him at his word.

It looks a hot little race, with Ollie Magern, second favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, heading the list of dangers.

He was hugely impressive when winning at Wetherby on his seasonal debut, confirming the positive impression created on more than one occasion last campaign.

But his presence in the field could actually help Kicking King. Ollie Magern likes to bowl along and a swinging end-to-end gallop is just what's required for Taaffe's star.

Kicking King looked a brilliant young horse on two occasions last season, in the King George and the Gold Cup. Trust him again.


WOULDN'T it be great to see enigmatic, but multi-talented, Harchibald and teak-tough Brave Inca renewing acquaintances in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday?

Harchibald suffered a knock when winning first time up this season at Tipperary and has to come through a gallop this morning. Chances are, however, he will get the green light.

There is little or nothing between this pair of superb timber-toppers. In the Champion Hurdle Harchibald finished second and had Brave Inca a neck behind in third. Then at Punchestown subsequently Brave Inca beat his rival a head.

You'd imagine Harchibald might be favoured this time round. A dry week is forecast, that would be a big help, and he also has the benefit of a recent run.

Dusty Sheehy is set to give us a second glimpse of Justified over fences in the Craddockstown Novice Chase.

He made a super start when scoring by nine lengths at Punchestown on October 19 and Sheehy then resisted the temptation to run him back more quickly than this.

One notes the presence of Wild Passion in the entries as well and that would be some head-to-head.

At Punchestown on Saturday Noel Meade is set to treat us to another viewing of Afistfullofdollars in the Irish Field Chase.

It is a contest which has attracted 12 entries and it is hard to see any of them causing this fellow too much trouble.

Cork promises some decent racing at the weekend as well and Mossbank will be the centre of much attention in the Listed Eagle Star EBF Novice Hurdle on Saturday, stepping up to three miles for the first time.

He's won both his races over flights in a canter, at Limerick and Fairyhouse. Conor O'Dwyer rode him for the first time at Fairyhouse and was very impressed, on ground he regarded as “terrible.”


BOOKMAKERS love short-priced favourites in beginners chases, especially about horses who are making their debuts over fences.

You can easily see from where they are coming, one mistake and the cash is ours. That's the theory anyway, but the reality, of late at least, has been completely different.

I reckon six in-a-row of horses having an initial spin over fences have won in this country.

Starting with Justified at Punchestown, he was followed by Southern Vic (Galway), Wild Passion (Punchestown), Afistfullofdollars (Down Royal), Mansony (Naas) and The Railway Man (Navan). Each and every one of them went of favourite and cost the layers a bundle.

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