We’re hoping for plenty of festive fun and frolics over the next few days especially at Kempton on Boxing Day where Mister Fisher will carry the familiar colours of James and Jean Potter Ltd in the G1 King George VI Chase.
It’s a race steeped in history and arguably the most prestigious steeplechase outside of the Cheltenham Gold Cup – indeed the winner of the Christmas showpiece invariably goes on to contest racing’s blue riband, and many have completed the double. In fact the last horse to do so was Long Run who bagged the 3m highlight in 2011 before going on to Gold Cup glory. Other memorable winners include Kauto Star (x4), Kicking King (x2) Edredon Bleu, Best Mate and of course the likes of One Man, See More Business and The Fellow so it’s fair to say ‘Jezza’ as he’s more affectionately referred to by his devoted groom Sarah Shreeve, has big hooves to fill but we can only hope that he comes back safe and sound and if he manages to finish in the money, we will all be absolutely delighted.
As has been widely reported, the intention was to run in the Peterborough Chase at Huntington which would have put him spot on for the King George, but after several below par work outs it was discovered that our stable star was suffering from a fibrillating heart which meant a swift trip to the vets to eradicate the problem. Thankfully everything went well and bar a couple of weeks of box rest, Mister Fisher was back in action and working with his usual zest.
Of course it’s a big ask on his first start of the season, and tackling three miles for the first time (he did run over three miles at Aintree last April but managed to get rid of his jockey at the 12th fence so we have no idea whether he got the trip or not!) but he’s been away to gallop at Newbury (with Chantry House) and Nicky Henderson was extremely pleased with the outcome.
It’s races like this, and horses like Mister Fisher, which every owner wants to be associated with and after many years of trying, a Grade One success has so far proven illusive for James and Jean Potter Ltd so we’re all hoping Santa can spread his magic and that Mister Fisher can pack a punch on Boxing Day!
Wheesht returns to the fray after a very pleasing comeback at Worcester in November where she put up a fine performance to finish third on her chasing debut under Nick Scholfield. That should have put her spot on and two and a half miles seems to suit her quite well at this stage of her career.
Richard Patrick gets the leg up on Sunday and her trainer Alistair Ralph has trained three winners form his last five runner so we’re hopeful of a very bold show.
But, and it’s a BIG but, there is the rather large issue of Galileo Silver in opposition who sports the silks of Potter Group and Walters Plant Hire. The son of Galileo was an easy winner at Wincanton on his most recent start and was put up 5lbs for an 11 length success but Jack Tudor’s 3lbs claim helps eradicate that slightly and with his confidence at a high, Sam Thomas’s charge is a worthy favourite.
Potterman reverts to hurdles for the first time since winning at Warwick in May 2019 in the Pertemps qualifier and the switch to timber could be just what the son of Polly Potter, who is a daughter of the wonderful Potters Gale, might need. The ground was quite tacky at Newbury last time when he ran slightly below par in the Ladbrokes Trophy and the going at Wincanton is currently good which should be ideal. There are only ten runners and you need to finish in the first six to qualify for the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival (if indeed a decision is made to go down that route) and he’s rated 5lbs lower over hurdles so could potentially be quite well treated. Tom Cannon knows him well and Alan King has been pleased with his homework, therefore he goes there with a very realistic chance.
Docte Dina has a couple of entries next week, at Leicester and Taunton, with the former the most likely preference at this stage.
Patroclus (owned by Potter Group and Walters Plant Hire) was due to make his chasing debut at Kempton on Boxing Day, but after discussing it with Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville it was decided that it would have been a very tough start to his career over fences where there are plenty of front runners so the pace is likely to be quite franetic which isn’t ideal on your first run of the year (and first run over the larger obstacles) because we’d prefer him to have a nice introduction to fences so have instead entered him all over the country; He’s currently engaged at Wetherby, Leicester, Newbury and Haydock!
Whatever he did over hurdles was a complete bonus and he is every inch a chaser so we’re really excited about how far up the ladder he can go.
Before Midnight has undoubtedly been the star of the show so far this season with wins at Cheltenham and Ascot and he may take his chance in the G2 Desert Orchid Chase on 27th December. Obviously it’s another (big) step up but he has shown he’s up to the grade and if we can keep away from Shishkin, he might surprise a few!
Mario De Pail and Mot A Mot have entries at Chepstow and Doncaster respectively.
So all that remains to be said is to wish each and every one of you a very Happy Christmas and let’s hope 2022 treats us all well!🎄 🎅 🥂