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
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect