Somersby can advance his King George case

 

The race itself is back where it belongs – and if Somersby can win it, perhaps the same might also be said of his trainer. Having lost its way a few years back, when joining the heedless rush to Saturdays, the Betfred Peterborough Chase today continues its resurgence in the sort of midweek slot that can sometimes serve the sport's grass roots much better. But if Henrietta Knight has remained supportive throughout, saddling four different horses to win eight runnings between 1998 and 2007, then her own fortunes have proved nothing like so constant.

Mysteriously neglected since her ground-breaking achievements with Best Mate, Knight has had any professional grievances placed in perspective by the stroke suffered by her husband, Terry Biddlecombe, in October. The old boy is said to be rallying well, but success for Somersby today would clearly represent a welcome tonic to everyone at their stables near Wantage.

If he is to vindicate his standing as one of very few horses remotely entitled to intrude on a rematch between Kauto Star and Long Run, Somersby will have to find improvement for what looks an overdue step up to three miles at Kempton on Boxing Day. For now, however, it must be hoped that he has the legs of these rivals in a test that always puts an emphasis on speed.

He has jumped well in both starts this season, having resumed an old partnership with Dominic Elsworth, and is readily exonerated for his failure to see off Master Minded at Ascot last time. When in that kind of form, Master Minded is pretty invincible, and you would like to think Somersby will have too much class for this solid, but plain, field. He should be in his prime, rising eight, and remember, even over an inadequate trip he was good enough to close down Sizing Europe to barely a length in their Arkle.

Even so, Knight did not sound terribly confident yesterday. "He's very consistent, but he's not like the other winners of this race I've had," she said. "The others were nippier. He's a big, long, strapping horse and I hope he won't get into a muddle over the fences like he has in the past. I'm really looking forward to running him over three miles [in the King George] because I think everything will be more at his pace."

While defeat this time would compound Somersby's reputation as a "nearly" horse, at least his continued wait for the big breakthrough leaves him well treated by the conditions of the race. He receives 4lb, for instance, from The Nightingale, who was pulled up in the King George last season but shaped with some promise when resurfacing at Down Royal last month.

Gauvain, a winner on his reappearance, is turned out quickly after his fall at Sandown on Saturday, but did not build on a similarly impressive comeback last season, while the fitting of blinkers implies that a decline in Tartak's form reflects something similar in his attitude.

The ups and downs of Knight's career provide a valid measure of the relentless achievements of Richard Hannon, who yesterday equalled the British record of 216 winners in a calendar year – set by Mark Johnston in 2009 – when Numeral won at Lingfield.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

City Ground (1.30 Huntingdon) On a very fair mark on form in novice hurdles and, having finished lame in his first handicap, can return fresh.

Next best

Spirit Of Barbados (1.20 Taunton) Bolted up at Worcester in the summer, but failed to stay next time. Can progress.

One to watch

Simonside (Brian Ellison) can stay ahead of his mark judged on his narrow failure under a penalty at Wetherby on Friday.

Where the money's going

Great Endeavour is 7-1 from 9-1 with Paddy Power for the Spinal Research Atlantic 4 Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Diego Costa, Ross Barkley, Arsene Wenger, Brendan Rodgers, Alan Pardew and Christian Eriksen
footballRodgers is right to be looking over his shoulder, while something must be done about diving
News
i100
Life and Style
gaming
Arts and Entertainment
Carl Barat and Pete Dohrety in an image from the forthcoming Libertines short film
filmsPete Doherty and Carl Barat are busy working on songs for a third album
Arts and Entertainment
films
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

Ashdown Group: HR Generalist - 2 week contract - £200pd - Immediate start

£200 per day: Ashdown Group: Working within a business that has a high number ...

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Recruitment Genius: Business / Operations Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well-established and growi...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive - Major Sporting Venue

£29500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible