Top chasers Kicking King and Kingscliff will be entertaining the Boxing Day crowds with what promises to be a great King George VI Chase at Sandown.

Kicking King beat Kingscliff by two-and-a-half lengths in the race 12 months ago, before going to claim the Cheltenham Gold Cup. But Kingscliff turned the tables on his rival last month with a win in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, when Kicking King could only manage third.

Kicking King is currently favourite for the race, but there are many who feel that this could be Kingscliff’s year. Tony Dobbin will be replacing young Robert Walker on board Kingscliff, after Walker injured his collarbone while schooling a horse.

Impek represents the formidable combination of trainer Henrietta Knight and owner Jim Lewis. Knight’s latest stable star will be ridden by 10-times champion jockey AP McCoy.

Sandown is also expected to see Ruby Walsh’s return to the saddle after dislocating his shoulder in a fall at Navan at the end of last month.

New safety guidelines

Racecourses are to introduce stricter guidelines to improve safety in parade rings and winner’s enclosures in the New Year. The maximum numbers of individuals allowed in these areas are to be set by the racecourse following risk assessments to avoid the potential dangers of overcrowding. Assistant trainer Chris Kinane’s parade ring accident in April highlighted the need for improved safety in such enclosures.

St Leger goes to York

The Ladbrokes St Leger meeting will take place at York in 2006, while its traditional Doncaster home undergoes a £55m redevelopment. The four-day meeting will be condensed to just two days, with six Group Two races in addition to the final classic of the season.

Lesters nominations unveiled

AP McCoy heads the nominations for the Jump Jockey of the Year award at racing’s annual awards night, The Lesters. McCoy has won the jump jockey award for the past nine years. This year he is up against Timmy Murphy, Graham Lee and Tony Dobbin. A total of nine awards will be presented at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 14 January.


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