One Man in great shape for big race

 

An ebullient Gordon Richards yesterday described One Man as better than ever five days before the grey attempts a third victory in the Pertemps King George VI Chase at Kempton. And the Greystoke trainer dismissed recent out of hand suggestions that the nine-year-old has passed the peak of his powers.

"He's got the form in the book and touch wood he seems to be very well and on song - he has never been better," said Richards yesterday.

One Man dished out a 14-length beating to Monsieur Le Cure in a rescheduled King George at Sandown in January 1996 and followed up by a dozen lengths from Rough Quest 12 months ago.

And Richards confirmed the gelding to have all but completed his preparation for his hat-trick bid. "I am quite happy. He will just tick over now before going down on Christmas Day," he added. "He will have a light canter each day, will have a quicker canter on Wednesday and that will be him finished."

Despite boasting an unbeaten record in both his outings this term - a two-and-a-half-length victory over Barton Bank in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and a nine-length call over Viking Flagship in Huntingdon's Peterborough Chase last month - One Man has not convinced everybody that he is as good as ever.

Criticism, including on Channel 4's Morning Line on Saturday, has been voiced that One Man is becoming a weak finisher but Richards countered: "If he was a south-country horse, a Lambourn horse, he wouldn't be finished, would he?"

Jonothan Lower is finally expected to make his return to race-riding after a tortuous 18-month absence at Market Rasen on St Stephen's Day, the jockey announced yesterday. If doing so he will become the first insulin-dependent diabetic to ride under Rules.

The 30-year-old's licence was revoked by the Jockey Club when he was diagnosed as being diabetic in June 1996. After succeeding in forcing a change of policy from Portman Square, Lower was cleared to make his comeback in October, only to suffer a hairline fracture to his leg in a schooling accident. But now the jockey describes himself as "80 per cent" ready to make his return.

Paul Carberry will not appeal against the 10-day ban imposed for intentional interference by the Haydock stewards on Saturday, the jockey's agent Terry Norman revealed yesterday.

Carberry will be sidelined from December 29th-January 3rd and January 5th-8th after the stewards ruled he had attempted to block the passage of 2 to 5 favourite Festive Teak with his mount Premier Cru in the Thelwall Standard National Hunt Flat Race.

Despite the incident Festive Teak cruised to a comfortable success, while Carberry's mount, who finished third, was disqualified.

Because of the foggy conditions the stewards were forced to reach their decision without the aid of a head-on camera, and afterwards the Irishman described his suspension as "ridiculous", claiming newcomer Premier Cru's greenness had been to blame for the interference.

Johnny Murtagh fell foul of the Hong Kong authorities for the second time in a week when fined HK$3,000 (£230) for improper use of the whip at Sha Tin on Saturday. The Irishman picked up his fine after twice hitting Senator, the short-head runner-up in the Jaffe Handicap, in front of the saddle in the home straight.

Murtagh was fined HK$5,000 last Tuesday for hitting the fractious Pakistan Hero around the head with his whip prior to a barrier trial.

Meanwhile, Pat Smullen continued in fine form in the United Arab Emirates where he rode a double on Friday aboard Chirico and Dawn Aurora at Jebel Ali.