Kauto Star will face a maximum of seven rivals in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day as he tries to win the Grade One Kempton showpiece for the second successive year. Those scheduled to line up against him include last year's runner-up and third, Exotic Dancer and Racing Demon, as well as his Paul Nicholls stablemate Taranis.
The small but select field – the eight horses have won 60 races between them – may be completed by one of last term's leading two-mile novices, My Way De Solzen; seasonal debutant Our Vic; Irish raider Hi Cloy; and recent Ascot winner Lord Jay Jay.
The frost that is threatening Ascot's card today prevented My Way De Solzen, who disappointed against Kauto Star at Haydock last month, from schooling yesterday. "We'll pop him over a few fences on Monday instead," said his trainer, Alan King. "He hasn't missed any work though. The pressure is off after getting beat the other day, and I'm looking forward to the rematch."
Our Vic has not raced since finishing a distant third to Exotic Dancer in the Betfair Bowl at Aintree in April; before that he may have been unlucky not to beat Taranis at the Cheltenham Festival. First time out last season he won the Charlie Hall Chase impressively and his yard is now in red-hot form after a slow start to the campaign.
"The King George will be the toughest race he has ever run in," said his trainer, David Pipe. "He seems to have been around for ages, but is still only nine."