Barry Geraghty gets the foot-up on Footpad for King George

Willie Mullins’s Arkle Trophy winner one of seven left in the big Kempton race on St Stephen’s Day

 Barry Geraghty will ride Willie Mullins’s Footpad in the  King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen’s Day. Photograph:  David Davies/PA Wire

Barry Geraghty will ride Willie Mullins’s Footpad in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen’s Day. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire

 

Clan Des Obeaux, Cyrname and Lostintranslation are three of just seven possible runners in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase.

Cyrname and Lostintranslation dispute favouritism for the St Stephen’s Day feature, having made the perfect start to their respective campaigns on the same afternoon last month.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname inflicted a first defeat over jumps on Altior in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot, while Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation proved himself a top-class staying chaser with victory over Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase.

Nicholls is also set to saddle last year’s winner Clan Des Obeaux as he bids to add to his record haul of 10 King George triumphs – with Altior, as expected, not among the confirmations.

Tizzard has a second string to his bow in Thistlecrack, who won the Kempton showpiece in 2016, finished fourth in 2017 and filled the runner-up spot behind Clan Des Obeaux 12 months ago.

Irish hopes are carried by Footpad, who bids to provide Willie Mullins with his second victory in the race following the success of the popular Florida Pearl in 2001.

With Daryl Jacob currently sidelined by injury, last year’s Arkle Trophy winner will be ridden for the first time by Barry Geraghty, Mullins confirmed.

The potential field is completed by Aso, trained by Venetia Williams, and Warren Greatrex’s star mare La Bague Au Roi.

Officials at the Sunbury venue have been buoyed by an improved weather forecast ahead of the big meeting.

The ground was reported as being mainly soft on Friday, after plenty of rain in the past week. However, drier weather is set come to the fore from the beginning of next week.

“We’ve had 64 millimetres since December 14th. Ground conditions are very much soft and probably bits of good to soft down the back straight and in the home straight, but I think the jockeys will say it’s soft,” said clerk of the course Barney Clifford.

“The outlook has improved and we are forecast to be drier. There is still the chance of a shower here and there.

“It is set to be drier on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and into Boxing Day, so that would improve conditions a little bit.”

“We’re in a good place. There’s another five or six millimetres of rain tonight [Friday] coming, I think, and probably a bit tomorrow [Saturday], but after that it will start to settle down and Kempton is like a sieve. It does drain well.”

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