Star quality to prevail

Nothing in King George field looks capable of beating true champion

Naill Cronin

NOT even the never-ending snow this week could prevent you from hearing an awful lot about Tony McCoy.

The 15-time champion jockey has won every big battle in jump racing and despite that he still managed to say yesterday: “I've been to ride Kauto Star this morning and cannot stop smiling at the thought of getting to ride such a brilliant racehorse.”

Now, when you have ridden the tens of thousands of horses that Tony McCoy has and won on some greats – Best Mate for example – and a horse like Kauto Star still gives you that sort of vibe and enthusiasm, well you know he really is special.

The snow has, and continues to do its best to prevent Kempton from staging Kauto Star's historic attempt at winning a fifth King George on Sunday.


Maybe the snow will do enough to delay the tilt until Monday, but regardless, this race will be run and Kauto will record history.

The weather has been a headache and, at the very worst, the King George may even be held next year – Cheltenham maybe on January 1st.

A field of 10 stands in his way and bookmakers report that since the booking of McCoy the horse’s price has tumbled. Hang on lads ... common sense has seen the horse’s price tumble.

Early in the week you could back Kauto at 11/10 in places or 1/1 if you didn't shop hard. Now he is around 4/5. McCoy is a boost, no doubt about it, but I would have the same confidence if it was Noel Fehily or, of course, Ruby that was getting the leg up.

This is a proper racehorse who proved to us at Down Royal last month that he is fit and well and full of confidence after his Cheltenham tumble in March.

What's there to beat him? Well, according to the bookies, Long Run is next best.

Long Run is as short as 5/1 to beat Kauto Star, but as Ruby Walsh rightly put it, if Kauto Star ran in the Paddy Power with that weight (11st 1lbs) you'd expect him to be finishing in front of Little Josh and Dancing Tornado.

Despite an encouraging seasonal debut, Riverside Theatre was well adrift of Sizing Europe back in March and failed to complete at Punchestown. He will get a bit of a shock when they're going a stride quicker than he ever did before.

It would be ideal if the race got the green light at Kempton at some stage as this is where Kauto has made his second home. But then again he did win two Gold Cups around Cheltenham if it did get moved there on New Year’s Day.

The cancellation of Leopardstown, Limerick and Down Royal was a massive blow to Irish racing. It's going to be a long day on Sunday without the bulk of the racing going ahead, but the one consolation could be found in Kauto Star.

All we need is for it to go ahead. Once it does, Kauto Star will bring the roof of the grandstand off Kempton Park and at pubs around the country. He will also cap a simply wonderful year for another legend – AP McCoy.