Tom George believes he will not be short of potential suitors for the ride on Nacarat in Saturday’s Betfair Chase at Haydock.
Sam Thomas partnered the grey to a facile success in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby but has opted to ride the Paul Nicholls-trained What A Friend on Merseyside.
Paddy Brennan has also ridden the nine-year-old before and rides a large proportion of George’s string, but he will be on Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander.
All this means one of the best spare rides of the season to date will be up for grabs.
“We haven’t decided who will ride him yet, I need to speak to his owner, Simon Clarke,” said George.
“I’m sure somebody will make themselves available, we won’t be short of offers.
“It’s just unfortunate that Paddy and Sam, the two guys who could have ridden him, are required for other runners, that’s just the way it goes.
“If the ground stays as it is (good to soft), he’ll run. He did his final piece of work this morning which we were very happy with and as long as the ground doesn’t deteriorate it will be fine. We wouldn’t run him on heavy.
“We’ve just kept him ticking over since Wetherby. In a perfect world I’d have liked another week with him but this was his only option before the King George.
“He’s come out of Wetherby unbelievably well. In the past we’ve had to send him swimming for two weeks but now we’ve got the measure of all that, it’s been a lot easier with him.
“The King George really suits him and you could say that without Kauto (Star) last year we would have won it but nothing beats Kauto when he’s in that form.
“He really enjoys Kempton and I think he’s improved since last year so we just hope it isn’t too soft there.
“We’ve been able to train him properly this year whereas before we were always going round in circles.”
Thomas admitted it was a difficult choice to make but with Ruby Walsh on the sidelines, there is an argument that staying loyal to What A Friend, on whom he won the Lexus Chase, could open up the possibility of more rides for Nicholls.
“This has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make in racing and Simon Clarke has been an absolute gentleman,” Thomas told the Daily Mail.
“Obviously, both have it all to do to beat Imperial Commander but I’m confident that I have made the right decision.”