Wednesday December 23

There is no chance of a white Christmas this year, but nobody at Barbury would complain if Boxing Day at Kempton was a grey one, because that might well mean that our stable-star Smad Place has beaten the big boys in the King George VI Chase, one of the most prestigious races of the winter.

Smad Place is almost white these days, evoking memories of the great Desert Orchid, who won the Kempton showpiece no fewer than four times, and, ironically, it was in the same famous Dessie style that ‘Smad’ ground his rivals into submission with a bold, front-running display to win the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury last month.

Assessing Smad Place’s prospects on Saturday, Alan said:”He goes there at the top of his game, having pleased Wayne (Hutchinson) when schooling over six fences on Monday, following a very encouraging workout 48 hours earlier.

“Going to Kempton rather than waiting for the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham next month makes sense as if we do decide to aim for the Gold Cup it gives us that bit extra time to get him ready for the Festival.

“Smad Place went up 13lb for winning the Hennessy, so, while he is stepping up another notch on the ladder, he came out of Newbury so well and his new rating suggests he would not have to progress much more to be right there in the mix with the big boys. He is in great shape and we are hoping for the best.”

We also have L’Unique and Simply A Legend heading up the M3 to the Sunbury course, and, assessing their chances, Alan added:”L’Unique runs in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, and, though it looks a hot race, she looked to be crying out for this step up to three miles when she ran so well over two and a half at Newbury last time.

“Simply A Legend, who runs in the closing handicap hurdle, won well at Sandown last time and looks to be improving. He worked very well last Saturday.”

Awesome Rosie runs in the mares novices’ hurdle at Wincanton, and Alan said:”She is a bumper winner and looks to have come on for her third at Southwell, where she was making her debut over jumps.”