Mr a fine alternative to Man

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The Independent Online
There are two distinctly different ways of looking at the King George VI Chase, which, with only eight shopping days left to Christmas is approaching all too quickly. The Boxing Day spectacular can either be regarded as an extension of the festive season, a gift for One Man which he has only to turn up for to collect, or the race in which his limitations will be exposed.

There is a danger that One Man is becoming confused with that other front- running, exuberant grey that dominated Boxing Day for so long. But, in truth, his achievements are some way behind those of Desert Orchid and even his biggest payday, when winning last season's King George, was achieved against a couple of horses performing far below their best in Monsieur Le Cure and Master Oats.

One Man's fallibility was laid bare in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, when he finished legless behind Imperial Call and it is difficult to understand how Gordon Richards, his trainer, could suggest that last Saturday's abandoned Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock, in which One Man would have conceded 12lb to the Grand National winner Rough Quest, would have been no more than an exercise spin.

"I would have liked 10 grand for a gallop," Richards said, "but he'll have to gallop at home for nowt now."

Rough Quest will be among One Man's opponents at Kempton on Boxing Day if he comes through a prep race over hurdles at Folkestone today.

It will be only the second run over hurdles of his career for Terry Casey's 10-year-old, having fallen on his first attempt at Uttoxeter in May 1991. Today's opposition is far from weak, with the former useful Flat handicapper Captain Jack among the opposition, while David Nicholson gives a British debut to Destin D'Estruval, a winner over fences in France.

Nahthen Lad, another King George entry, was also an intended runner in the Tommy Whittle and could instead appear over timber this week. He is entered at Bangor tomorrow.

The winner of the Sun Alliance Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last season, he had earlier been left trailing in the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot by Mr Mulligan.

Noel Chance, the latter's trainer, confirmed yesterday that Mr Mulligan is on course for the Kempton race, despite disappointing on his seasonal return at Chepstow, when only fourth to Belmont King.

"Mr Mulligan had a problem with his back at Chepstow, which I hope we have corrected," Chance said. "He screwed badly over the fifth or sixth fence and lost his confidence after that.

"He was a bit tender after the race and we've manipulated and massaged his back and it appears to have done the trick. I'm hoping that's the problem otherwise I'm in trouble.

"He's a big horse. You can't alter him much during a race and he'll have Richard Johnson back on board for Kempton."

Chance considers that Mr Mulligan represents good each-way value for Kempton and he is clearly not alone. The Tote offered the chestnut at 20-1 early yesterday but were soon forced to tailor their prices in line with the other leading firms after a barrage of money. He is now a top- priced 14-1 chance and still represents value.

n Ladbrokes have made Penny A Day and Khayrawani their 10-1 joint-favourites for the 1997 Ladbroke, when the weights were released yesterday for the big Irish handicap due to be run at Leopardstown on Saturday, 11January.

The firm's spokesman Ed Nicholson said: "Penny A Day looks well handicapped on 11st 2lb and Mary Reveley's unbeaten gelding looks as if there could be more improvement to come. Khayrawani is another who has done nothing but improve and warrants respect."

Urubande, last season's Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle and Aintree Hurdle winner, has been allotted top weight of 12st and the sponsors quote him at 20-1, while Triumph Hurdle hero, Paddy's Return has 11st 3lb and is 16-1.

Ladbrokes: 10-1 Penny A Day & Khayrawani, 12-1 Notcomplainingbut, Bolino Star, King Of Kerry & Family Way, 14-1 Cockney Lad, Dardjini, Guest Performance, Mystical City, Hill Society, Mayasta & Lady Ardel, 16-1 Balawhar, Paddy's Return, Executive Design, Tibetan & Palette, 20-1 others.

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