Jodami opts to meet One Man

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The Independent Online
RACING : Deciding on a Boxing Day destination for Jodami always looked an appropriately tricky choice for a day when so many are making the unappealing selection between which set of in-laws to visit. Yesterday his stable announced that the 1993

Gold Cup winner will make the trip that causes him least inconvenience and will nip down the road to Wetherby rather than make the tedious expedition south to Kempton Park.

Whether the proximity of the venue will make the Rowland Meyrick Chase any easier a target for Jodami than Kempton's King George VI Chase is questionable. True, at Kempton he would have encountered Barton Bank, Bradbury Star and The Fellow, the principals in the last three runnings of the King George, but at Wetherby he will face One Man, the breathtaking young aspirant to the chasing championship. Crucially, Jodami will have to shoulder 23lb more than his six-year-old rival a weight which seems sure tokeep him anchored.

Jodami looks likely to be the most significant absentee from the Kempton race which could now be contested by a single-figure field. Commercial Artist, third to One Man in the Hennessy Gold Cup, will definitely not be making the trip from Ireland, and there are doubts about the participation of Dubacilla, Lord Relic, Cogent and Black Humour.

Peter Beaumont, Jodami's trainer, and the gelding's owner, John Yeadon, reached their decision after the horse worked yesterday morning. The trainer's wife Margaret relayed the news: "Jodami worked well this morning and we are going to Wetherby because, as it's on our doorstep, it will be handy," she said.

"We have to get a race into him now because he has only had three-quarters of a race this season," she said, referring to the horse's seasonal debut at Haydock earlier this month when he unseated Mark Dwyer four fences from home.

Another difficult rival at Wetherby could be Cogent, who is also a King George entry and would meet Jodami at level weights at Kempton but receives 15lb in the Rowland Meyrick.

Despite that consideration, Cogent's trainer, Jeremy Glover, has still to decide on a destination and it is the possibility of less testing going at Wetherby that is luring him towards the Yorkshire course.

"I'd like to go to Kempton but I don't want to knock the bottom out of him and he might have an easier task at Wetherby," Glover said.

Softening ground at Kempton would improve Dubacilla's chance of running, while Lord Relic, who was yesterday removed from Ladbrokes' betting on the King George, seems more likely to contest the following day's Welsh National, a target also favoured by Charlie Brooks for Black Humour.

The latter's defection leaves Graham Bradley free to partner Gale Again, Ireland's second challenger alongside the Richard Dunwoody-ridden Second Schedual.

Bradley, who won the King George in 1985 on 12-1 chance Wayward Lad, believes his Tommy Stack-trained mount, a 25-1 shot, "must have a squeak given good ground". The going forecast is soft.

One rider with more substantial cause for optimism is Bruce Raymond, who yesterday announced his retirement from the saddle after 36 years as a jockey. The 51-year-old has been offered a job assisting Joe Mercer with the management of the 300 horses owned by Maktoum Al Maktoum, who retained him as a rider. Raymond's finest moments came on the Royal Ascot winner Bob Back and the sprinters Petong and Sheikh Albadou, on whom he won the Haydock Sprint Cup.

KING GEORGE VI CHASE (Kempton, 26 December). Ladbrokes: 5-2 Bradbury Star, 3-1 The Fellow & Barton Bank, 8-1 Travado, 10-1 Algan, 12-1 Dubacilla & Monsieur Le Cure, 16-1 Young Hustler, 20-1 others.