Monday, November 19, 2012

Back to the drawing board for King George hope Grand Crus

There were some decidedly long faces amongst the David Pipe camp at a meeting when the yard’s horses had otherwise done particularly well, after the red-hot favourite Grand Crus has been pulled up in the showcase Grade 3 Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday, writes Elliot Slater.
The former high-class staying hurdler had only tasted one previous defeat over fences, (in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last March when fourth to Bob’s Worth), and was all the rage throughout the morning of the race and in the minutes prior to the off, being backed down to a prohibitive 7/4 favourite at   in one of the most hotly contested handicap chases of the National Hunt season.
On very testing ground that was changed after the contest to ‘Soft, Heavy in places’, Tom Scudamore seemed happier than most in a race in which only six of the original 18 who started the contest actually completed, and heading down towards the third  last the writing looked on the wall for the bookies as the grey travelled particularly well.
Unfortunately for his many supporters, including Paul Nicholls in his latest Paul Nicholls racing tips column, the gelding suddenly began to lose his place as Al Ferof and Walkon surged on towards the home turn and, clearly feeling that something might be amiss, Scudamore took swift action and pulled Grand Crus up before the second from home.
No immediate injury came to light, but clearly a combination of the ground and a possible breathing difficulty could have proved the undoing of the punters’ choice whose odds for the forthcoming Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day where immediately pushed out to as big as 12/1 (from 5/1). There must now be a very serious doubt about Grand Crus taking his place in the line-up for the Christmas showcase event.

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