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King George fallout

Like any good sporting event, the post mortem from Saturday's King George at Kempton is still ongoing.

Over analysis is often the case when there is a surprise result or history is just a step away, and the success of Long Run and Kauto Star's foiled attempt for five consecutive King Georges is no different.

As always, the debate brings up some very 'interesting' points.

Here is our tuppence worth on the King George fallout and the Champion Hurdle after Binocular also won on Saturday.

3Age catches up on us all ...

At the end of the day, there was a feeling of anti-climax around on Saturday as Kauto Star failed to create history at the same junction where Desert Orchid did.

Five wins in the winter highlight for staying chasers is too much it seems and, at 11, age has probably just caught up on Kauto.

Barring a mistake at the second last he would have been a gallant second to a young gun who fulfiled his potential and, as Paul Nicholls said immediately afterwards, "he looked like he'd lost half a yard of pace."


There were many different views emerging after Kauto Star's failure but blaming Tony McCoy (pictured right after the race on board Kauto Star), Ruby Walsh's replacement, is laughable and annoying.

Have people already forgotten all the records and facts that were thrown at us prior to the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award?

Kauto's mistake at the second last cost him second place, but that was it.

Nothing Tony McCoy did or didn't do had any effect on the result.

It isn't like this horse has never had a bit of a jumping flaw before.

Indeed, people should be admiring the horsemanship of McCoy for keeping the partnership intact at the second last rather than knocking him for not getting the best out of an 11-year-old who has had so many great days.

On a similar note, the success of Long Run under Sam Waley-Cohen was another bitter pill for those who love jockey knocking. The horse was bought for the amateur to ride, and if you don't like that don't back him.

3retirement, are you having a laugh?

Paul Nicholls was yesterday looking forward to preparing his dual Gold Cup winner Kauto Star for a return to the scene of his finest days as he silenced any talk that the horse would be retired -- "he's 11 not 13,' the trainer said.

Nicholls earmarked a return to Down Royal in November for next season's Grade One JNWine.com Champion Chase, which Kauto Star has already won twice.

For those who like a small each-way bet for the interest, the 12/1 on offer with William Hill for Kauto in the Gold Cup may have some appeal.

Yes, he was got for toe on Saturday, but the Gold Cup is over further and the extra stamina test could just come into his favour.


Long Run was last season earmarked as a Gold Cup horse for 2011, but it was only after his almost foot-perfect display of jumping and his convincing victory on Saturday that he earned the right to be considered.

Considered he may be now, and as he goes to take on reigning champion Imperial Commander, a not-to-be-forgotten Denman and a rematch with Kauto Star, we have for ourselves a Gold Cup to savour.

Imperial Commander could have been more impressive last time and it would have answered a lot of questions about March if he had been in Saturday's King George, but once Long Run puts in a similar display of jumping, it will take a fair one to beat him on March 18.

It will be nerve-wracking for Waley-Cohen but having heard him talk over the last couple of days he seems to be a lad who takes everything in his stride and relishes the challenge.

There is no doubt that he will, deep down, want to silence the critics that want him jocked off too.

I personally wouldn't want to see anyone else ride the horse, that's for sure.

3king george throws up champion chase candidates...

As it stands at the moment, the last two Arkle (2m) winners from the Cheltenham Festival were being targeted at the Gold Cup.

Sizing Europe was a Champion Hurdle (2m) contender when running in that sphere and very impressive when he gained a deserved Cheltenham Festival success last year in the Arkle.

Forpadydeplasterer was also stepping up in trip once more when he contested Saturday's King George, and although that race told us nothing as the horse was reported to be sick, I have to wonder would both trainers not consider reverting back to the minimum trip for the Festival -- been there, done that as novices, why not now try and wear the T-shirt?

Sizing Europe ran well against Kauto in Down Royal, but that form doesn't stack up now to suggest he can go and win a Gold Cup, yet he was always classy at 2m so why not go there again.

Having missed the King George and not entered in the Irish Hennessy, could we see Sizing Europe in the 2m Tied Cottage at Punchestown later this month, I wonder?

3hurricane still set to fly at cheltenham...

To steal a line from Ruby Walsh, 'the hardest to beat is the champion' and he was saying that in reference to Binocular after he won last Saturday's rescheduled Christmas Hurdle.

Binocular did it well without being emphatic and his jockey, Tony McCoy, as much as said that in his post race comments too.

Last year's Champion Hurdle winner pulled clear of Overturn and won by three and three parts of a length.

Surely it must be remembered though that Overturn is a Galway Hurdle winner and that is a handicap so surely Binocular should be pulling clear, albeit Overturn was a handicap good thing.

Hurricane Fly goes into this weekend's Irish Champion Hurdle as a best price 5/1 for the Cheltenham equivalent and that still looks great value.

Hurricane Fly has done it over 2m4f and 2m, on good ground and soft ground, he looks the real deal.

Dunguib is pitched up against him on Sunday and looks his only real challenger as the rest seem to have no answer and Dunguib is having just his second attempt.

You will find though, with defeat of Dunguib, Hurricane Fly's price will only further shorten.