King George on Forpady radar
KERRY trainer Tom Cooper is preparing stable star Forpadydeplasterer for a crack at this season's William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton.
The luckless eight-year-old -- which finished second in his six starts last season, including the Tingle Creek, Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Melling Chase at Aintree -- will start his campaign off in either the Fortria Chase at Navan or a race at Cheltenham before heading to Kempton.
Cooper said: "We're going to have one cut at three miles this year and probably go for the King George. He gives himself every chance of staying and if he does, the sky's the limit with him. We just need to get one run into him first before he steps up in trip."
The Tralee handler also has high hopes this year for River Liane, second in a Grade Two chase before injury curtailed his season, and Son Amix, fourth in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham.
The King George sponsors, who have given Forpadydeplasterer a quote of 16/1 for the Kempton showpiece, report greater ante-post interest in the Willie Mullins-trained classy French imports Mikael D'Haguenet and Arvika Legionnaire. While missing out entirely on last season through injury, Mikael D'Haguenet is due to be launched over fences next month and is the firm's favourite for the RSA Chase in March.
This strongly built gelding was trimmed a point to 9/1 yesterday. The younger Arvika Legionnaire was cut to 20/1 from 25/1 by Hills for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy.
In common with many of his colleagues, Mullins is awaiting a change in the weather before entering the cream of his crop and, thus, will be heartened by the expectation of heavy rainfall in Galway ahead of the final meetings of the year in Ballybrit next Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.
The 14 races down for decision there carry a total prize fund of €214,500, thanks in the main to more sponsorship support by local firms, with the Grade Three Barna Waste Novice Chase the Sunday feature.
John Kiely can choose between the JP McManus-owned Head Of The Posse and Taking Stock, each successful on their two most recent outings, and Noel Meade may opt to saddle Navan winner Realt Dubh.
The Diamond Vision Novice Hurdle is another of Sunday's better-class events with in-form Wexford trainer Colin Bowe thinking of sending Askanna there to defend her unbeaten record against the likes of Tom Hogan's versatile English import Mount Helicon.
There's a double date in Wexford with Bowe's colleague Paul Nolan considering testing Noble Prince -- absent since his fourth to Quevega in a Grade One at the Punchestown Festival -- over fences in Saturday's Kilmore Beginners Chase.
Noel Meade's Munster National runner-up Fisher Bridge is a possible for the same day's Casey Enterprise Chase over a shorter trip.