Racing: Fellow can follow up

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The Independent Online
REMEMBER the sense of loss when you discovered that there is no Santa Claus? Many backers will relive the moment next Saturday when, for the first time since 1985, the field for the King George VI Chase at Kempton will not include one Desert Orchid. The more sycophantic television commentators will be at a complete loss for words.

Even if the hoo-hah left you spitting with contempt, the sight of the grey horse flying the Sunbury fences was undeniably moving, particularly if the Christmas expenses were depending on his success. Now that injury has ruled out Remittance Man for the season, it is futile to search for a natural heir apparent to Desert Orchid's aggressive dominance in next weekend's field, but the contest may at least offer a chance to atone for past sins of omission.

The wronged horse is The

Fellow, beaten a short head in the last two Gold Cups but rarely given the credit he deserves. It was almost possible to miss the fact that he won last year's King George - impressively - as the cameras panned to the third last, where Desert Orchid's career had reached an inelegant conclusion.

The Fellow thoroughly deserves another success next Saturday, and since he is still just seven years old, may yet exact more revenge by surpassing the grey's total of four King George victories. If his present price of around 5-4 seems miserly, Deep Sensation, at 10-1, is the only each-way chance to make any appeal.

On the supporting card, Cab On Target can take the Feltham Novice Chase. Barton Bank is the probable favourite, but he looked workmanlike at Cheltenham last time while Cab On Target has often shown flashes of a rare talent.

Last year, the field for the card's novice hurdle must have been one of the best ever assembled outside the Festival, since it included the subsequent champion hurdler, Royal Gait, and the current ante-post favourite to succeed him, Halkopous. It would be unfair to expect any such future heroics this time around, but Big Beat should at least provide a pointer by puncturing the Cheltenham aspirations of Satin Lover.

Incurables will be reduced to betting on a white Christmas after Tuesday, as the rest of the week is blank. Kushbaloo (1.15 Edinburgh) tomorrow and Golden Fare (3.15 Hereford, Tuesday) can prove the best of some very moderate bunches.

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