Racing: King closer to crown

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DAVID NICHOLSON'S assistant, Alan King, is to emerge from his boss's shadow at Jackdaws Castle and train some of the stable's horses for a Flat campaign next summer.

King yesterday refused to speculate whether it means that he will eventually take over from Nicholson, who said last week that he intends training for two or three more years. The trainer was embroiled in controversy when Adrian Maguire decided to step down from the position of stable jockey after suggestions that he may be usurped by Richard Johnson.

"We'll have a three or four horses and I'll `play around' with them," King said. "I spent last summer with Sir Michael Stoute but I will be under the guidance of the boss. My name won't appear on the racecard as you are not able to have two training licences at one yard."

The stable's owner, Colin Smith, said: "This is the first step in grooming Alan to be handed the day-to-day running when `The Duke' decides to leave. He is going to train a few Flat horses and will be in charge of this side of the operation though the licence will remain in David's name. I have made that plain to David."