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.

News
Alex Salmond said he accepted 'the democratic verdict of the people'
newsSNP leader says Scotland must move forward as 'one nation'
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Nursery Assistant Plymouth

£10000 - £20000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week