Kauto Star poised to make history

It looks like an utterly irresistible combination, but followers of Kauto Star and Tony McCoy should think carefully before lumping the mortgage on the pairing who are hot favourites for tomorrow's King George VI Chase at Kempton.

That's what many so-called experts will say, but forget them. Get your life savings, your left-over Christmas lolly and find a bookmaker that will convert your unused book or record tokens to cash and put the whole shebang on Kauto Star to win his fifth King George.

For this is the race the French-bred Star was born for - three miles right handed on a flat galloping track at level weights against horses who, with all due respect, are mere handicappers in his company.

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He has proven it already by winning a record four consecutive King Georges, and will overtake mighty Desert Orchid, four times the winner in five years, for a surely unbeatable record fifth victory.

Should he win - make that when he wins - the Star will also surpass the 2 million mark in first-place prize money, a feat which, of British and Irish-trained horses, only Flat champions Dylan Thomas, Sea The Stars and Workforce have accomplished by virtue of winning the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe.

After winning at Kempton he could then go on and win the Cheltenham Gold Cup for a third time, and if he does, in terms of achievement he will overtake even the great Arkle, who only won the King George once, as did fellow triple Gold Cup winner Best Mate.

His trainer, multiple champion Paul Nicholls, has taken Kauto Star down the same preparatory route as before and all has gone well. The Star looks in impressive shape, and this is his principal target for the season.

He may turn 11 next week - the age at which Dessie won his last King George - and he's in the twilight of his long career, but everything still points to a victory. He is officially rated 22lbs superior to anything else in the field - meaning he should triumph easily - and has won his four King Georges by a cumulative distance of 63 lengths.

Though the Star has battered a few fences, he has never fallen round Kempton or any right-hand track, and he has won on ground ranging from good to very soft (in France), while his times in the King George have always been fast - testament to his ability to quicken away off the good gallop that invariably happens in this race.

Then you factor in McCoy.The BBC Sports Personality of the Year and Grand National winner gets the ride because the Star's regular pilot Ruby Walsh is out with a broken leg, while his replacement Noel Fehily has unluckily damaged a wrist and will need an operation.

There are some people who feel that because McCoy has never ridden Kauto Star in a race, the 15-times champion jockey may find it difficult to adjust. That will be the same McCoy who adjusted well enough to Nicholls' other great champions, Master Minded and Big Buck's, in recent years. And, unlike a great many of the 13,000-plus rides Tony McCoy has had over the years, on this occasion he has ridden work on the horse, taking the Star over no less than 40 fences at Nicholl's yard in Ditcheat, Somerset, on Thursday morning.

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Thanks to Twitter, we know how McCoy feels: "Been to ride Kauto Star this morning and can't stop smiling at the thought of getting to ride such a brilliant racehorse."

Nicholls also Tweeted that "AP and Kauto got on great". That's good enough for me. I confidently expect Kauto Star and McCoy to win by at least ten lengths, and possibly even half-a-furlong.

The odds on the illustrious duo are cramped, so if you are looking for some each-way fun, you could do worse than Sizing Europe, Henry de Bromhead's eight-year-old who gave the Star a great run for the money in the JNWine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal early last month.

That was Sizing Europe's first attempt at three miles, and the Arkle Chase winner looks to have stepped up in trip no bother. He is available around the 14-1 mark, and that means a good return for finishing in the places.

It will still be Kauto Star and Tony McCoy finishing first, however, making history the like of which we have never seen before.

The only thing that can beat them is the weather, and Kempton will inspect at 2pm today to see if racing can go ahead tomorrow. Covers and an expected thaw should be enough to see the great chase go on as part of an eight-race card which will also include the williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle.

Champion hurdler Binocular was only third in this event last year but trainer Nicky Henderson has him in good heart, and he is a warm favourite, not least because he has Tony McCoy aboard, riding for his retaining owner JP McManus. Expect a big-race double for the champion jockey.

Scottish racing hopes to resume next weekend, the meeting scheduled for Kelso on Wednesday having been called off already. Musselburgh is hopeful of racing on New Year's day, as increased temperatures and a touch of rain are forecast for East Lothian in midweek.

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Even if racing does not go ahead at Musselburgh, the New Year Sprint will still take place, with the country's best known professional athletics event scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The heats for the sprint and supporting races will take place on Hogmanay, with the big race - for a prize of 4,000 - taking place on Ne'erday afternoon.There will be many sad hearts at Musselburgh should racing go ahead. It would have been the 62nd birthday of Peter Monteith, the Midlothian trainer who was such a fixture at the course and who died in tragic circumstances last month. Perhaps his many friends at Musselburgh will have the chance to raise a glass in his memory. He would have liked that.