Patrick Neville reports The Real Whacker to be firmly on course for next week’s Ladbrokes King George VI Chase after coming through a Tuesday morning workout with flying colours.
The seven-year-old won each of his three starts over fences last term, completing his hat-trick with a narrow defeat of Gerri Colombe in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
He disappointed under a big weight on his reappearance in last month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup, but Neville had a viable excuse after his stable star returned with an overreach and he is confident he is back on-song ahead of his bid for glory in Kempton’s Boxing Day showpiece.
“He’s in great shape and we’re looking forward to running him. He’s come on a lot since his last run and we’re delighted with him at the moment,” he said.
“He went away for a piece of work this morning – he’s been to the High Moor in Middleham for a gallop and we were very happy, so it’s just a case of keeping him fresh and well for the next week now.
“I think he maybe only missed two days after the Paddy Power, although he didn’t really miss anything as we had him on the water treadmill, which is a great facility for us here.”
The Real Whacker is a best-priced 10-1 for the King George, with the Willie Mullins-trained Allaho and Paul Nicholls’ defending champion Bravemansgame among his likely rivals.
Dual Ryanair Chase hero Allaho was sidelined for 19 months prior to a workmanlike comeback win in last month’s Clonmel Oil Chase, while Bravemansgame has been beaten in his two starts so far this season.
With Gerri Colombe’s participation uncertain and Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin set to line up having refused to start on his intended return at Ascot, the race does have an open look to it and Neville is excited to be in with a shout.
He added: “There will be some very good horses in the race, as you’d expect, but we’re very happy with our horse and that’s all we can ask.
“I think they’re due a good week’s weather, so the ground shouldn’t be as bad as it was in Cheltenham, when it was very heavy.
“Sam (Twiston-Davies) is looking forward to riding him. He was very happy with how he jumped for most of the race the last day and he looked after him once it wasn’t happening.
“We’re looking forward to taking our chance.”
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