Paul Nicholls looking to continue domination of King George VI Chase with four horses in...

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May 8, 2002
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Nine horses, four of them trained by Paul Nicholls, will line up for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day headed by his Clan Des Obeaux, the two-time winner, and Cyrname, the highest rated chaser in training. As anticipated the only absentee is Henry de Bromhead’s Monalee who is, along with all Irish horses and jockeys, banned from travelling over by the Irish government until January 1. Nicholls has dominated the race, winning it 11 times already, and is a short price to make it a dozen wins on Saturday with Real Steel and Frodon as back up for his big two. As far as the market is concerned Santini looks the main danger to the Nicholls domination but, having been supplemented for £5,000, the race is clearly a bit of an afterthought for him. Colin Tizzard runs Lostintranslation, who needs to put a poor run in the Betfair Chase behind him. Nevertheless the strength of the Nicholls team has not scared everyone away. Ruth Jefferson brings the aptly named and fragile Waiting Patiently down from Malton for his first start in over a year, while Harry Whittington’s Saint Calvados tries three miles for the first time on the back of a narrow defeat to Min in the Ryanair Chase. “He’s always won first time out for us albeit in handicaps rather than Grade Ones,” said Whittington. “He was set to run in the Betfair Chase but was delayed by an over-reach which became infected. He’s training well. He was switched off out the back and didn’t get involved until very late in the Ryanair so I should think we’ll do something similar. He’s got the speed to travel and I’m reasonably confident about the trip.” Epatante, the reigning Champion Hurdler, faces just four rivals in the Christmas Hurdle while Shan Blue heads seven runners for the Kauto Star Novice Chase. Officials at Chepstow remain confident that Sunday’s Coral Welsh National – rained off four times in the last 10 years – will be able to go ahead as planned despite forecast flooding for south Wales. Clerk of the course Libby O’Flaherty said that despite the course being predicted only 30mm before the weekend and receiving that full quota on Monday alone, she is happy with the way things are going. “It’s heavy Chepstow ground,” she said. “It’ll be wet ground but two dry days will help. It’s not like it’s going to rain every day.” Darwell Lion, who gave Hollie Doyle her 150th winner of the year at Lingfield on Tuesday, was safely back in his stable at Ellmarie Holden’s Kilkenny yard this week after an eventful journey home. There was a doubt about the horse, who was sent over before Horeracing Ireland announced a ban on horses crossing the Irish Sea until January 1, getting home when he and his driver left Lingfield with the offer of a hotel and a stable there – or at Wolverhampton or Doncaster as a back-stop – and were turned round at the port. However, his trainer reported that man and horse got back without a hitch. “It was all within the guidelines,” she said. “He’s home safe and sound and there’s not a bother on him.”

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