King relishes challenge of finding way to topple Star

With some running plans for high-profile horses in the weekend's key jumping contests weather-dependent and still in flux, at least one man has defiantly set his stall out. Come hell or high water – and it is raining in the north-west – My Way De Solzen will make his eagerly awaited seasonal debut against Kauto Star in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.

The presence of the Alan King-trained pretender will provide a real test for the reigning monarch, whose long-time unbeaten run came to an end on his own first run of the campaign at Aintree last month, and will add a real edge to what is not only the first Grade One chase on the domestic programme but also, as the opening leg of the £1m Betfair Bonus series, the first step on what could be a road to riches.

"Of course it is a tough race for his first run of the season," said King, "but we have no option. In an ideal world I would have liked to have had a run into him before this race but it hasn't worked out. But he had an awayday last week when he worked on grass, which has brought him on no end."

Kauto Star hit the bonus jackpot last year after adding the King George VI Chase at Kempton and the Gold Cup and My Way De Solzen, last year's Arkle Trophy winner, is second favourite for both Saturday's race and the Boxing Day showpiece.

Though the French-bred seven-year-old was last season's top two-mile novice chaser, he was a top-class staying hurdler, winner of the World Hurdle at last year's Festival, before turning his hoof to fences and King has no doubts about Saturday's three-mile trip.

"We were always going to work up in trip this time," he said, "as this season has been geared towards the King George. I couldn't be happier with the horse, I'm not worried about the trip and he will definitely run.

"I might not be sure he's good enough to beat Kauto Star, but he's good enough to run a huge race. He's entitled to be there and it's going to be thrilling. There are some smashing horses at the moment and I hope the punters appreciate it."

My Way De Solzen's regular rider, Robert Thornton, will be in the saddle for the gelding's acid test, but Kauto Star will have a new jockey when Sam Thomas, trainer Paul Nicholls No 2, replaces injured Ruby Walsh.

Gold Cup runner-up and third, Exotic Dancer and Turpin Green, are likely to reoppose their Cheltenham conqueror on Saturday though Exotic Dancer, a distant third when Kauto Star was second to Monet's Garden at Aintree, will be without Tony McCoy if the Ulsterman is required for duty on hurdler Wichita Lineman at Ascot. Veteran Beef Or Salmon, runner up in the two previous runnings, makes the trip from Ireland.

Saturday's feature will be the first chase run over Haydock's new course with portable fences; the ground is likely to be, at best, good to soft. Wintry showers are forecast and the possible deterioration in conditions have prompted the removal of one rival to the big two.

Aces Four, from Ferdy Murphy's in-form Leyburn yard, is likely to take up his alternative engagement in the Peterborough Chase at Hutingdon the same day. The eight-year-old, one of last season's best staying novices, was pulled up behind Betfair-bound Ollie Magern in the Charlie Hall Chase, but as a cobweb-blowing exercise it delighted his trainer. "He came out of the race fine and we were thrilled," said Murphy, who added a treble at Hexham yesterday to L'Antartique's Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Balls are in the air ahead of Saturday's three important jump meetings, but for the year's top Flat horse Dylan Thomas, they have hit the ground. The four-year-old's career is to end in anticlimax after he was ruled out of Sunday's Japan Cup. Local authorities refused to release Aidan O'Brien's charge from quarantine after his trip to the Breeders' Cup as he failed a test for equine viral arteritis, because a vaccination in America against the disease caused a raised level of antibodies. Instead of the Tokyo prize, the Arc hero may divert to next month's Hong Kong Vase, which would add a mere half-million to his £3.3m earnings.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence