Captain can steer a winning course between titans of the turf

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CAPTAIN CHRIS can spoil the party in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

One of the biggest crowds in years is expected to descend on the Sunbury venue in anticipation of the clash between Long Run and Kauto Star, winners of the past five renewals. Of course Kauto Star is credited with four of those, alongside his two Cheltenham Gold Cups and numerous other Grade One victories.

His reign looked to be coming to an end last season when only third, behind Long Run, in this race and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

And when he was pulled up at Punchestown there were calls for his retirement, which certainly irked Paul Nicholls. The champion trainer deserves plenty of credit for getting Kauto Star back to his brilliant best for his seasonal reappearance but, in his own words, that was Kauto’s Gold Cup.

Long Run, meanwhile, looked a shadow of the horse who powered away from Kauto Star and Denman in the Gold Cup and his old jumping frailties returned, and there is value in taking them both on.

Arkle winner Captain Chris has always looked like he wanted further and he certainly was not stopping when he won over nearly two-miles-five at Kempton in February.

Philip Hobbs’ charge has only been seen once this season, when he looked to be coming to win the Haldon Gold Cup before getting rid of Richard Johnson at the last.

That would have been some performance, giving good horses like Medermit and Ghizao upwards of 6lb and a beating, and he is the only horse in the field open to more improvement.

While Nicky Henderson might not be celebrating with Long Run his Bobs Worth looks the perfect type for the williamhill.com Feltham Novices’ Chase. Grands Crus is his big rival yet his form on right-handed tracks leaves plenty to be desired. Defeats in a bumper at Hereford and over hurdles at Taunton twice suggests he might be better going the other way.

Bobs Worth, on the other hand, has won a bumper and a novice hurdle at Kempton and the three-mile trip looks far more in his favour.