Wednesday 17 January 2018

Kauto still on for record with January date for King George

Thomas Kelly

Kauto Star's bid to record a record fifth successive victory in the King George VI Chase could still become a reality, but the Paul Nicholls-trained 10-year-old will have to wait until Kempton's next jumps meeting on Saturday, January 15 to attempt it.

Kauto is tied on four victories with Desert Orchid, which won the St Stephen's Day feature four times (1986, 1988-'90).

The relevant parties acted quickly to save the King George VI Chase and the Christmas Hurdle after both days of the festive fixture fell foul of the big freeze.

Kempton's managing director Amy Starkey said: "We are naturally bitterly disappointed to have lost the William Hill Winter Festival to the severe winter weather.


All eyes are now on Ffos Las getting British jumps racing out of the deep freeze tomorrow.

There has not been any National Hunt racing on turf since December 16, but officials at the Carmarthenshire track are now "cautiously optimistic".

Newbury are pinning their hopes for Wednesday on the prospect of a thaw setting in over the next couple of days.

There is still snow on the course but if the forecast is accurate that could disappear in time.

The card features two Grade One races, the AP Wins Sporting Personality Long Walk Hurdle, transferred from Ascot, and the Sportingbet Supports Heroes Charity Challow Hurdle.

Officials at Cheltenham will anxiously monitor temperatures over the next couple of days in the hope of staging the big New Year's Day meeting.

"We are currently covered in something like six inches of snow, and we are due to get no higher than minus 5C today," said communications manager Andy Clifton.

"The next three or four days will determine what happens at the weekend. The forecast is not as encouraging as it was a few days ago, but we still have chances.

"The forecast has to be accurate, or better (warmer) than accurate, for us to have a chance. In the next 36 hours we need temperatures to be up and for the snow to melt."

Exeter are hoping their decision to scrap races on the chase course and have an all-hurdle and bumper programme on New Year's Day will pay dividends.

An upbeat forecast for the week has given officials reason to be optimistic about starting 2011 on a high.

Musselburgh's meeting on New Year's Day is subject to a 12.0 inspection on Wednesday. The Scottish venue is frozen and covered in five centimetres of snow.

Yesterday's meeting at Wetherby and today's Leicester programme were lost to the arctic conditions, while the two remaining St Stephen's Day fixtures at Fontwell and Wolverhampton were abandoned following inspections.

Irish Independent

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