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Nauticus finds it far from plain sailing in Investec Oaks trial

If this was supposed to be the preliminary sketch for an Epsom masterpiece, then for now Liber Nauticus remains closer to an oil tanker than a dashing ocean clipper. Nonetheless she finds herself disputing favouritism for the Investec Oaks, bookmakers having taken an indulgent view of the heavy weather she made of her trial here.

Botti backs Planteur to make flying Flat start by conquering the World

Having anticipated last week for so long, some Cheltenham diehards will be appalled to discover that a new Flat season opens at Doncaster on Friday. Others, however, will recognise that so rich a banquet can only really be followed by a total change of taste – even if Town Moor is set to provide conditions better suited to steeplechasing.

Long Run ready to battle for Star billing

This could prove one of those occasions when there is no point complicating matters. Long Run, beaten only by the record-breaking Kauto Star in three Boxing Day starts over the course, is much the most likely winner of the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton tomorrow. And while the retirement of Kauto Star, who won the race for a fifth time last year, suggests the time is ripe for a changing of the guard, it is surely premature to make too much of the anomaly that Long Run – in approaching only his eighth birthday – increasingly represents the old order.

Harry looks destined for top of the chasing class

For those dispirited by the way so many big jump races are nowadays carved up between the same few stables, here was a look back to the future. Lest we forget, Kim Bailey himself once won the Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle at the same Festival, with Master Oats and Alderbrook respectively in 1995, and until this year he remained unique among current trainers in having also won a Grand National. Even in his pomp, however, he never pretended to invulnerability – and the engaging human qualities that leavened his undoubted hunger have been sadly missed from the elite scene for more than a decade.

Grand Crus may finish up Plastered

Anticipation of this meeting is largely rooted in hindsight. Year after year it proves a major crossroads, especially in the career of a young horse, on the road back to the Festival.

Album: Beverley Knight, Soul UK (Hurricane Records)

Wolverhampton's finest revisits some favourite home-grown soul from her youth, making a strong case for her argument that this genre always gets overlooked when the media gets nostalgic about the 1980s and 1990s.

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Kauto and Kempton feel the chill

Kauto Star may be an irresistible force, but a deep layer of snow certainly represented a fairly immovable object at the beginning of a week that is supposed to end with his historic quest for a fifth consecutive success in the William Hill King George VI Chase. Barney Clifford, clerk of the course at Kempton, had to cancel the Flat meeting scheduled for his all-weather circuit yesterday, and four inches of snow are lying over the frost blankets on the adjacent jumps track. Even so, he was not sounding too downbeat at this stage, pinning his hopes on forecasts of somewhat milder weather in time for Boxing Day.

Wymott digs in for follow-up win

With the weather closing in again – today's meetings at both Ascot and Uttoxeter are subject of morning inspections and weekend prospects are not good – jump trainers are grabbing opportunities while they are there. Yesterday, a soggy afternoon at Exeter drew an eye-catching collection of young chasers needing miles under their hooves en route to greater targets at Cheltenham in March.

Peddlers will not look for Christmas cheer at Kempton, says McCain

Emerging hurdling talent Peddlers Cross, who took the scalp of Binocular on Saturday on his first venture into the senior ranks, is unlikely to cross swords with the reigning king again until the Champion Hurdle. The new kid on the block will skip the next date on the top-level domestic two-mile circuit, next month's Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, in favour of the Grade Two trial at Haydock in January.