Tom George chases a second Grade One triumph in a week when he saddles Black Op in the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton.
The Slad trainer sent out The Worlds End to lift the Marsh Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday and is hoping for a big run on Boxing Day from Black Op, who steps up to three miles over fences for the first time.
The eight-year-old will is bidding to regain the winning thread – although he lost little in defeat when second to Champ over two and a half miles at Newbury last month.
Black Op got off the mark over the bigger obstacles at Stratford in October, having run well in two races over fences last seaason when taking minor honours behind Defi Du Seuil at Exeter and Lostintranslation at Cheltenham.
George said: “He’s in good form – he had a good run at Newbury.
“I think the step up to three miles shouldn’t be a problem for him, and I’m looking forward to it.
“We were thrilled the way he ran at Newbury. We’re ready for a step up in trip now, so we’ll see how we get on.”
Colin Tizzard relies on Slate House, whose only blip in three outings over fences came when he fell in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham after looking certain to go close.
Slate House had a confidence-boosting win at Huntingdon three weeks ago, with a narrow verdict over Tarada.
Tizzard’s son and assistant trainer Joe said: “I think he came up against a fairly solid horse at Huntingdon last time – trying to give 12lb away – and that form could turn out to be pretty good.
“This is a step back to a Grade One, but he he is rated 155 and he deserves to be in there.
“He had won over two miles five at Cheltenham, so we hope that equates to three miles around tracks like Huntingdon and Kempton.
“I don’t think it is the strongest Grade One, and he goes there in good nick.
“He had the fall at Cheltenham the time before last, and that is why we were keen to go to Huntingdon and give him a confidence boost. He was either going to have a crack at this or the Dipper afterwards.”
Paul Nicholls will keep a close eye on the weather before deciding whether to run both Danny Whizzbang and Master Tommytucker, or just one of them.
Both horses recently made winning reappearances, following their long absences.
Master Tommytucker returned from a 408-day lay-off to beat Who Dares Wins over two and a quarter miles at this course – while Danny Whizzbang was the outsider of three when overturning the odds-on Reserve Tank at Newbury, on his first start for 270 days.
“Because the ground is soft, I thought I’d put Danny Whizzbang in,” said Nicholls.
“A lot can change with the ground – but the plan is to run them both.
“It was a good performance by Danny Whizzbang at Newbury, and he can only improve from it – although he does lack that bit of experience over fences.
“I was throwing Danny Whizzbang in the deep end a bit for his first run over fences, but it worked out well.”
Both Nicholls’ contenders are as yet short on experience.
He added: “Master Tommytucker is a nice horse, and it was good to see him win at the track last time, but he has only had four runs in his life.
“If he hadn’t fallen at Chepstow he would be like Danny Whizzbang and still be unbeaten.
“Danny Whizzbang wouldn’t want it to dry up too much, while Master Tommytucker wouldn’t want to have it get much worse. I might review the situation on Thursday morning,”
Fergal O’Brien expects the extra distance to suit Jarveys Plate.
“I probably ran him in the wrong race the last day, but I hope he can make amends by going to Kempton and doing well,” said the Cotswolds trainer.
“The three-mile trip around there, I don’t think will be a problem, and I hope freshening up will help.
“We are putting cheek-pieces on him just to try and allow him to travel a little bit kinder. We forced it a bit too much at Haydock, so Paddy (Brennan) will ride him pretty switched off and take his time with him and hope the race will unfold for him.”
Dan Skelton knows Redzor faces a tough task – but because jumping is his best asset, believes he is not without a chance.
The Alcester trainer said: “He has got a few figures to find with some of them, but he put in another good display last time in what was a step up in class.
“He jumps nicely, and I hope he will put in another consistent run. I could see him having an each-way squeak.”