Hermes Allen set to represent Nicholls at Kempton, with Knappers Hill sidelined

Paul Nicholls has revealed that talented novice chaser Knappers Hill will miss his big festive target and is probably out for the season having suffered a setback.

The seven-year-old, who was unbeaten as a bumper horse before going on to score seven times as a hurdler, appeared set to take high-rank over fences this season following a thoroughly impressive victory at Wincanton in the “Rising Stars” Novices’ Chase.

He was due to contest the Grade One Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on Boxing Day, but there is set to be a shuffling of the Ditcheat pack with fellow top novice operator Hermes Allen poised to skip an intended outing in Ascot’s Noel Novices’ Chase on Friday to fill Knappers Hill’s Kempton vacancy.

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Hermes Allen impressed at Newbury on his chasing bow
Hermes Allen impressed at Newbury on his chasing bow (David Davies/PA)

“I was going to run Knappers Hill in the Kauto Star, but sadly he’s had a little setback and we might end up missing the rest of the season with him,” Nicholls told Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday programme.

“It’s only minor, but I see him possibly as a horse who could run in the King George next season, so I think we need to stop and get him right.

“I’m going to reroute Hermes Allen to the Kauto Star now rather than go to Ascot this week, because I’d love to run him in a Grade One, especially over three miles.

“You play your cards and try to keep them all apart and then something like this happens, so Hermes will almost certainly go to Kempton on Boxing Day.”

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