King relishes challenge of finding way to topple Star
Thursday 22 November 2007
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.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...