Paul Nicholls has been speaking in his Betfair column about the decision to run Kauto Star in the King George:
I spoke to Clive last night and we have decided to let both Kauto Star and Master Minded take their chance in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, although that is obviously dependent on both horses being fit and well and continuing to please me in the lead up to the race.
Ruby rides Kauto Star and Daryl is on Master Minded.
We saw with Tataniano and Denman recently how the smallest of injuries can end seasons and careers, and that brought into sharp focus that sometimes you have to seize the moment with racehorses.
And Clive and I have always campaigned Kauto sportingly and adventurously, none more so than when he won the Old Roan, the Betfair Chase, the Tingle Creek and the King George in just over two months in 2006.
Compared to that, Kauto has had it very easy this season! So the plan is to try for a fifth King George victory.
And while I am writing this, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all the people that have got in contact with us about Denman. He will be given the best of retirements, of that you can be certain.
As I said when we broke the news of his retirement here on Friday, the plan is for us to keep him in his box to keep Kauto company for the rest of the season.
And on the rare occasions Denman deigns to stick his head out of his box, he will have seen that his next door neighbour is as lively and alert as ever.
Obviously, whenever you train a horse to be at his peak for one race – and we had Kauto at 100pc in the Betfair Chase – there is always the possibility of them underperforming next time. You simply don’t know until you get them back on the track.
We saw that with Kauto himself at Punchestown earlier in the year. But that was in May, this is December; he had a full season’s training behind him, as well as his racecourse runs, before disappointing in Ireland.
And all I can tell you is that he that he has come out of his fourth Betfair Chase win remarkably well, and don’t forget that Timeform have that run down as his best ever run at Haydock. And he has always run well at Kempton after running in the Betfair Chase.
He had two weeks ticking over after Haydock, but started back in full work at the start of last week and has delighted Clifford.
He works with Master Minded every day, so that just adds to the rivalry come Boxing Day!
Long Run will be a formidable opponent if he returns to the form of his King George or Gold Cup wins, but he is now set to face two of the best chasers in recent decades, so he will have to be on his game at Kempton.