Tom George strives for more Kempton glory with Double Shuffle

Fri 24 Feb 2017

Tom George has high hopes of claiming a third BetBright Chase at Kempton with course and distance winner Double Shuffle.

Bold-jumping grey Nacarat produced a brilliant display in the hands of Sir Anthony McCoy to strike gold in 2009 and regained his crown three years later under Paddy Brennan.

Double Shuffle still has some way to go to match of achievements of a horse who struck at Grade One level in his pomp, but has a progressive profile and looked the part on his first start over three miles at the Sunbury circuit over Christmas.

George said: "He was placed at the (Cheltenham) Festival over two-mile-five last season but even then he was running a bit too free and doing too much the whole way.

"We then tried to drop him in in the BetVictor Gold Cup and that was an unmitigated disaster, he hated it. He wants to get on with things a bit and the key is to get him to settle.

"We put a hood on him at Kempton last time out and it worked a treat as he gets to be ridden prominently, which he likes, but it just keeps a lid on him.

"That was over course and distance and he stayed it well and he appreciates a bit of decent ground."

Last year's winner Theatre Guide is back to defend his crown and bids to earn a place in trainer Colin Tizzard's formidable team for next month's Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Tizzard said: "It is a race he won last year. I'm sure after that we will talk about Cheltenham.

"If he wins and wins well I'm sure he will go there (Gold Cup). He deserves his chance in it.

"He has won at Cheltenham this year staying on. Horses of his rating have run big races in the Gold Cup before.

"If he comes out of this race well I'm sure we will have a go at it."

Three Musketeers is a major contender for Dan Skelton.

The seven-year-old got his season back on track in a graduation chase at Market Rasen last month and tests the water over this trip for the first time.

"He was good at Market Rasen and I think the cheekpieces helped him that day," said Skelton.

"I'm looking forward to stepping up to three miles in what is a very competitive race.

"The ground should be fine for him."

Viva Steve was also entered for the Eider Chase at Newcastle, but instead heads to Kempton.

Fergal O'Brien's charge disappointed when well fancied for the Classic Chase at Warwick last month, but the Gloucestershire-based trainer is hopeful he can bounce back.

O'Brien said: "We just felt the ground would be too heavy for him at Newcastle over four miles. We wouldn't mind a bit more rain at Kempton.

"He ran well enough in the race last year (finished sixth) and has some other good form at the track.

"We don't really know what happened at Warwick. The ground was very heavy, he made a bad mistake at the third-last and that seemed to knock the stuffing out of him.

"He seems in good form at home and Barry Geraghty rides him, so fingers crossed he'll run well."

Neil Mulholland is double-handed, with recent Wetherby scorer Fingerontheswitch joined by stable companion Pilgrims Bay.

"Both horses have been in good form recently and both go there in good order," said the Somerset handler.

"Fingerontheswitch won well at Wetherby, where the tongue-tie seemed to help him.

"We think the more competitive race and bigger field might actually help Pilgrims Bay. He got left on his own at Wincanton last time and thought the race was over, but there were still a few fences to jump.

"Having a few more horses around him might suit him better.

"I think both horses deserve to take their chance and we're hoping for the best."

Opening Batsman, the winner in 2013, also features in a 13-strong field.

More Latest News



Select any odd to add a bet

Single Bets

Enter a stake to place a bet

Total Stake: 

This video is playing in Picture-In-Picture. Click to Exit.
This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.