Sizing Europe to swerve King George
Sizing Europe will miss the rearranged William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on Saturday.
Connections of the 2010 Arkle Trophy winner have decided against sending the Irish-trained nine-year-old over to England for the second time in three weeks after making a wasted journey for the abandoned Christmas meeting.
Instead, trainer Henry de Bromhead will attempt to give Sizing Europe a run before Cheltenham nearer home.
"After careful consideration we've decided to bypass the rearranged King George this Saturday with Sizing Europe," he said.
"He's in great form at home so what we'll do now is sit down and look at our options here over the next three to four weeks with a view to a run prior to the Festival in March."
Sizing Europe put up a pleasing effort over three miles when second to Kauto Star in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal in November, and his conqueror is seeking a record fifth successive victory in Kempton's feature.
The three-week delay and the forecast softer ground conditions will play to Kauto Star's strengths, according to his trainer Paul Nicholls.
"Obviously the race being delayed is a setback, different horses will be different. It doesn't appear to have made any difference to Kauto Star because he likes to be really fresh and you don't have to murder him in his work," the Ditcheat handler said.
"He had a nice little break for a week after the day it was due to be run. He still cantered every day, we have just picked him up quietly and he's in really good form.
"He worked great on Saturday morning and we are very happy with him.
"He was in good order when he won at Down Royal and he's improved a lot for that run.
"It is a totally different race to what it would have been on St Stephen's Day. It would have been really good ground then, on Saturday if the forecast is right it looks like being really soft.
"That will be more of an advantage to him than a lot of horses."
Milton Bradley remains determined to find the right race for The Tatling to end his career on a winning note.
The Sedbury trainer believes a poor draw has scuppered the veteran sprinter's chances of retiring on a high in his past two starts.
"He's all right, he just wants a decent draw. The last two runs he's been on the wide outside in a sprint and that handicaps you without being a 14-year-old too," said Bradley. "We're hoping that when we can find a race for him, he gets a better draw. We'll be looking at races everywhere on the all-weather apart from Southwell. I don't think he likes the deep (track) there so much.
"That'll be it when he wins one. He will be retired that day. You find one like him by mistake and you spend the rest of your life looking for the next.
"We'll see if we can win a race with him up to the spring. We'd go on until he can get some spring grass and that will be it. We'll see if we can get him to like the easy life.
"He likes everything, he has no dislikes in this world and he loves his racing. If he didn't like it he'd have stopped four years ago."
The biggest of The Tatling's 16 wins in 159 races to date came in the 2004 King's Stand Stakes and he has amassed nearly £700,000 in prize money.