SAM TWISTON-DAVIES is to ride the grey Al Ferof in the William Hill King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.
The 22-year-old schooled the horse yesterday and owner John Hales confirmed the jockey’s booking to The Yorkshire Post.
Hales also said the Paul Nicholls-trained chaser – third in the Kempton race last year – had shown no ill effects from his comeback win at Ascot last month following extensive treatment for stomach ulcers.
Al Ferof is now third favourite, behind stablemate Silviniaco Conti and the Willie Mullins-trained Champagne Fever, after another grey, Simonsig, was ruled out of the race.
Trained by Nicky Henderson, Simonsig has not raced since winning the Racing Post Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in March 2013 because of a splint injury.
“He is not going to run in the King George. He is a bit stop-start at the moment. It has been two steps forward, one step back and sometimes two back. It is frustrating,” said Henderson.
Meanwhile the Nicholls-trained Sam Winner will take his chance in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28.
The Angela Yeoman-owned seven-year-old has excelled over fences this season, with back-to-back victories at Cheltenham and at Aintree.
He will now step back into Grade One company at Leopardstown over the Christmas period. “He’s on the fringe of Gold Cup class,” said the champion trainer.
“The only thing is that he has to go left-handed, but that works for Leopardstown.”
Green Flag is the latest horse, after Malcolm Jefferson’s stable stalwart Cape Tribulation, to be confirmed for the £40,000 Grade Three William Hill Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day, the centrepiece of the two-day William Hill Yorkshire Winter Festival at the West Yorkshire course.
Green Flag was a progressive novice last season, recording a hat-trick of wins at Kelso, Ayr and Newcastle.
After finishing second in the Grade One Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton, the seven-year-old slipped up in totepool Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby on February 1.
He was an excellent fourth the following month at the Cheltenham Festival behind Holywell and ended last season’s campaign by finishing sixth in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr.
Green Flag took fourth on his seasonal reappearance at Carlisle in November and was last seen out when 12th over the Grand National fences in the Becher Chase at Aintree.
Trainer Lucinda Russell said: “Green Flag was running a fantastic race in the Towton when he unfortunately slipped up on the bend and came down, so we kind of have some unfinished business at Wetherby.
“He has not been at his best so far this season although he did jump fantastically in the Becher Chase last time out.
“He is in good form and I think there is still some improvement to come from him.
“We also have Bold Sir Brian as a possible for the William Hill Rowland Meyrick, although he is more likely to go to Haydock this weekend. He wouldn’t run in both races.”
The Grey Gatsby has been named Yorkshire’s horse of the year in succession to 2013 Grand National winner Auroras Encore.
Frank Gillespie’s horse beat off stiff competition, including David O’Meara’s top sprinter G Force, to collect the prize at the 2014 ‘Go Racing in Yorkshire’ annual awards lunch.
Trained at Hambleton by Kevin Ryan, The Grey Gatsby proved his win in York’s Betfred Dante Stakes was no fluke when winning the Group One Prix du Jockey Club – the French Derby – at Chantilly.
Second to Australia in the Juddmonte International back at York, The Grey Gatsby finally beat Aidan O’Brien’s champion in the Group One Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown courtesy of a vintage ride from Ryan Moore.
The Sky Bet Trophies for the leading trainer and jockey on the Yorkshire racecourses during the 2014 Flat season went to Richard Fahey and Graham Lee. Donald McCain and Jason Maguire took the jumping honours.
West Country farmer Anthony Knott, former owner of 2012 Cheltenham Festival winner Hunt Ball, has been disqualified from racing for three years after being found guilty of passing on inside information.
A similar ban has also been handed down to associate Andrew Callow who used information about the likely performance of Knott’s horse Theroadtogorey for betting purposes at Uttoxeter in July, 2012.
Callow, who knew Knott from the cattle industry, won £6,155 when Theroadtogorey finished a tailed-off eighth of the nine runners. A statement issued by the BHA read: “The fact that this corrupt behaviour only involved one race is not an ameliorating factor – no credit can be derived from it.”