Man for the job

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The Independent Online
ONE MAN produced a deeply impressive performance to win the Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock yesterday and propel himself to favouritism for both the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

The Gordon Richards-trained grey, ridden for the first time over fences by Mark Dwyer, hardly came off the bridle to beat Monsieur le Cure in a canter by 11 lengths, with the former Gold Cup-winner Garrison Savannah trailing 30 lengths behind. And though his victims were largely lights of other days, there was no denying the efficiency with which they were snuffed out.

Dwyer, replacing the injured Tony Dobbin, settled One Man in third place round the first circuit as Monsieur le Cure took the five runners along. But as the horses turned into the straight for the first time it was clear that Dwyer was swinging off John Hales's gelding, and a centimetre of rein eased was enough to take him effortlessly into the lead.

Only six lengths covered the field going past the stands, but as soon as Dwyer released another inch of rubber down the back straight it was like a Ferrari taking on Ladas. The increase in effort from the leader was imperceptible, but suddenly the others were in trouble. Monsieur le Cure was the only one to stay with One Man, but it was on sufferance only, for Dwyer was sitting still, while Jason Titley was in drive position.

At the second-last fence One Man took off outside the wings, and Dwyer said: "Riding a jumper as exciting as this one does something for a man's blood. I gave him a bit of a breather after the last ditch on the far side, which meant Monsieur le Cure stuck with us for a bit, but once I let him go on in the straight the race was over in a matter of strides."

Because of One Man's striking coat colour, comparisons with Desert Orchid are inevitable, and there is more than a hint of Dessie in the enthusiasm and extravagance at his fences shown by this rising star.

His performance, on his first run for a month - he missed the Hennessy two weeks ago because of the heavy ground - will have eased the pain Richards is feeling from ribs cracked by a kick from a horse eight days ago. The Penrith trainer, typically matter-of-fact, said: "That was very pleasing. His jumping is so good he's like a horse on springs - a little rubber ball - and I knew the change of jockey wouldn't upset him, because Mark is such a good horseman. He must be among the best I've trained, but he's got a bit to prove yet. Let him win the King George and the Gold Cup first."

Ladbrokes make One Man their 5-2 favourite for the King George, and there could be no more appropriate Christmastide winner than a horse owned by a leading toy manufacturer. Gold Cup prices range from the 7-1 offered by the Tote, down to Hills's quote of 9-2.