Racing: A Jester carves a niche on the beach before chasing the King's ransom

Click to follow
The Independent Online
ON THE sands near Holy Island, Pat's Jester prepares for racing's early-season grail, the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The man at the controls as the gelding works with Kharif on the Northumberland coast is trainer Dick Allan, who will again be at the controls, of the horse's box, when he sets off from his stable at Cornhill-on-Tweed for Sunbury on Christmas morning. 'It's going to be an eight-hour drive but I think it'll be worth it,' Allan said yesterday. 'I'd travel to Iceland if I thought he could win.'

Pat's Jester, known as 'Fat Pat' for the habit of distending his stomach in his box, has been on beach patrol regularly in his big-race build-up. 'Usually he goes there once a week, but with the hard ground at home he's been going a lot more recently,' Allan said. 'Without the sand I would have been struggling to get him ready.' The main obstacle is the other King George runner with a long journey just to get to Kempton, the French horse The Fellow. Trained in the swanky confines of Chantilly by Francois Doumen, the seven-year-old will attempt to follow up his success 12 months ago.

But the fellow who will be most missed is the horse who won the race in the preceding three years, and four times in total, Desert Orchid. The flamboyant grey's final racecourse appearance was in last year's race and his biggest challenge now is to regain full fitness after an attack of colic.

(Photograph omitted)