Dynaste now joint favourite with Cue Card in King George VI Chase
Cue Card had been favourite for the King George VI Chase ever since running out a convincing winner of the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November. He is now sharing that position with Dynaste despite up-beat reports from Trainer Colin Tizzard.
He ran in this race last year but was eventually well beaten after tiring in the heavy ground. The going is likely to be on the soft side again this year and Cue Card is likely to attempt to make all of the running.
His nearest pursuer at Haydock was Dynaste who was taking on experienced chasers for the first time. He was the leading novice chaser over three miles, winning impressively at this meeting 12 months ago and bolting up at Aintree in the spring.
David Pipe was forced to withdraw him from his intended reappearance at Wetherby after a minor setback and it was a very creditable run at Haydock. The most impressive aspect of his performance was how easily he was able to track the leaders and settle into a nice rhythm for his jumping.
The Betfair Chase is surely the key to the outcome of this race with the third home Silviniaco Conti also worthy of the utmost respect. The Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old was also racing for the first time this season and travelled keenly throughout.
With natural improvement, both Dynaste and Silviniaco Conti should finish a lot closer to Cue Card here. The flatter track may just favour Dynaste who is taken to come out on top here.
Nicholls also saddles the useful Al Ferof who coasted clear of his only rival in the Amlin Chase at Ascot. That was a highly satisfactory prep race after a lengthy layoff but he is not yet proven over this distance.
Nicky Henderson is applying headgear to both Long Run and Riverside Theatre in an effort to sharpen them up. Both have a tendency to run a little sluggishly at the mid-way stage of the race and they could be found wanting when the pace quickens.
Champion Court, Mount Benbulben and Menorah complete the nine-strong field for a fascinating renewal of the Grade 1 Chase.