Waley-Cohen escapes to face Kauto rematch


Fleetingly, even confirmation that one of the greatest achievers in steeplechasing history will be at Kempton on Boxing Day seemed less momentous than the possible absence of a part-time rider who spends most of his time running a chain of dental practices. As it turned out, despite an initial alarm to the contrary, the 12-day suspension picked up by Sam Waley-Cohen at Fakenham yesterday will not commence until New Year's Day – ensuring, so long as all parties remain sound in the meantime, that everyone should be present and correct for an epic renewal of the William Hill King George VI Chase.

For Waley-Cohen's relief that he could still renew his partnership with Long Run must have been matched by a heightened sense of their task in defending the prize they won last year. Paul Nicholls and Clive Smith have now settled their delicious dilemma over Kauto Star and Master Minded by resolving to run them both.

Their decision was at once audacious and unsurprising. True, there had been a theory that Kauto Star's rejuvenation at Haydock last month, when he served it up so unceremoniously to Long Run, owed so much to freshness that he should instead be held back until Cheltenham in March. It would not have felt right, however, for the only horse to have won the King George four years running to spend Boxing Day staring out of his stall. And, had Nicholls been in any doubt, then surely his mind was made up on Friday when he was obliged to announce the retirement of Kauto Star's next-door neighbour and rival, Denman. As Smith put it: "You've got to catch them when they're just right. The form he's in, if the race is there for him, you've got to run."

Ruby Walsh will ride Kauto Star, with Daryl Jacob on Master Minded. "My gut instinct, immediately after Haydock, was to put Kauto away for the Gold Cup," Nicholls admitted. "But he astounds me, this horse. He had a hard race there, but has just recovered so well. Last night I said to Clifford [Baker, Nicholls' head lad] that it was time we made a decision. 'You ride him every day,' I said. 'Where do you think he is?' And he just said: 'He's so well, you've got to run him.' For whatever reason, I think he's a better horse this season. Last year he was making a noise, and he bled after Kempton. I know Long Run will improve for Haydock, but I must say I thought he looked superb beforehand and the fact is he's got eight lengths to find with us."

Waley-Cohen won over even the most cynical punters on his father's champion at Kempton, and then in the Gold Cup, to the extent that the prospect of a professional taking over on Long Run would no longer prompt many to anticipate improvement. But that was the scenario that briefly beckoned when the Fakenham stewards banned Waley-Cohen for apparently taking the wrong course on Otage De Brion. In a clear lead with a circuit to go, he had bypassed the fence in front of the stands. "To be honest, what actually happened is I thought he'd swallowed his tongue," he said. "He landed and just made a hell of a noise. He's had an operation before, and we normally have a tongue-tie on him, but didn't today. I knew where I was going [but] I accept it doesn't look good."

Long Run's owner, Waley-Cohen's father Robert, had indicated that Barry Geraghty, stable jockey to the six-year-old's trainer, Nicky Henderson, would be the most likely substitute. On learning of his son's reprieve because the ban applies only on days when there are races for amateur riders, he declared: "It's a huge relief, and I'm thrilled for Sam."

* The popular sprinter The Tatling won his 176th and final start at Wolverhampton yesterday, just 20 days short of his 15th birthday.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap: Amroth Bay (1.50 Catterick)

Shaped with promise on his chasing debut.


Next best: Spot The Ball (3.40 Folkestone)

Typical slow-burner for these connections, with McCoy in charge today.

One to watch: Ceannline (Venetia Williams) travelled strongly before fading in testing going at Ludlow last week.


Where the money's going: Peddlers Cross is 7-2 from 4-1 with William Hill for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy.

Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own