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Gauvain gets better of King George hopeful Somersby

By Chris McGrath

Her best horse had been beaten again, and a wild, murky afternoon in the flatlands must have blended fairly seamlessly with her own emotional landscape.

But Henrietta Knight did not have to seek far here yesterday to remember how it's an ill wind that blows no good.

It was only five days previously, after all, that the horse who had just beaten Somersby dismayed his own connections with a fall at Sandown.

Having duly avoided a hard race against Sizing Europe, Gauvain was able to rise from the canvas and win the Betfred Peterborough Chase — and, in the process, at least he confirmed Knight in her suspicion that Somersby nowadays requires a stiffer test of stamina.

Whether he can improve sufficiently at three miles to trouble Long Run and company in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day remains to be seen.

Having jumped and travelled well under Dominic Elsworth, Somersby was caught flat-footed when Noel Fehily kicked Gauvain for home and could only make gradual inroads as they toiled into the gale, still four-and-a-half lengths down at the post.

Knight's historic affinity with this race — once extending to eight winners in 10 years — did not prevent her champion, Best Mate himself, being turned over in the 2003 running.

“It's as I said all along,” Knight explained. “It wasn't his race, and wasn't his course.

“They go flat out round those little bends, and he couldn't get into his usual rhythm.”

In fairness, while she had plainly acceded to other pressures, Somersby would hardly have been sent off hot favourite had this been some kind of reckless punt.

Meanwhile, Tony McCoy has opted to ride Sunnyhillboy in the Spinal Research Gold Cup at Cheltenham tomorrow.

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