Catching Pigeons: Long has shot
Our Catching Pigeons column is back with the latest news from the major training centres ahead of the busy festive period.
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It is very rare for a Nicky Henderson-trained horse to wear any sort of headgear so this year's King George VI Chase at Kempton is a real collector's item with both his runners - Riverside Theatre and Long Run - sporting a pair of blinkers and a visor respectively in this year's renewal.
Long Run's visor is fitted in the hope it will help him recapture his form after two modest performances so far this season.
Connections are confident the change from the cheekpieces he has sported in the past can see him bounce back on what looks to be his favourite course.
His recent work suggests he should at least have a chance of winning this great race for the third time and he looks the value each-way bet.
Paul Nicholls has two excellent chances in the race with Al Ferof and Silviniaco Conti and looks to have the answer to the Kauto Star Novices Chase with Just A Par.
There would be no more fitting winner of this race and Just A Par looks ready for the step up to Grade One company after his recent win at Newbury.
Vaniteax can maintain his unbeaten record for Henderson in the opening William Hill Novices Hurdle.
The Seven Barrows shrewdies were very confident this ex-Irish pointer would make a winning debut for the stable at Sandown just under a month ago, but their hearts were in their mouths when he clattered the second last.
Although he lost valuable momentum, the four-year-old rallied strongly in the closing stages and ended up winning a shade cosily.
He has pleased since that win and gives the impression he will handle the testing ground better than Mick Channon's smart course and distance winner Sgt Reckless.
Henderson will be hoping for the reverse with My Tent Or Yours in the williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle, and a fast pace will also be welcomed.
This should prove a fascinating clash between My Tent and The New One and preference on this occasion has to be for Nigel Twiston-Davies' star, who may be more at home on the ground.
Emma Lavelle has served her followers well during the first half of the season and she can take the closing William Hill Handicap Hurdle with Junction Fourteen.
This race is named after the Lambourn turn off from the M4 and there will be plenty of celebrating at owner Tim Syder's nearby hostelry, 'The Pheasant', if this lightly raced and unexposed four-year-old can follow up his win at Fontwell a month ago.
Oliver Sherwood looks to have the best bet away from the main action at Kempton with Spirit Oscar in the Mares Novices Hurdle at Fontwell.
Underfoot conditions will be dire here after Monday's heavy rain and she coped with similar conditions really well when making a winning debut for the Rhonehurst trainer at Lingfield.
Henderson has a great record in the William Hill - In The App Store Handicap Hurdle on Friday and the nicely-weighted Snake Eyes will merit consideration if he takes his chance. He is certainly a horse to note.
Lavelle can win a well-deserved big one with Highland Lodge in the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow on Saturday.
He looks tailor-made for this race and served notice he would be a major threat with a great run in the Hennessy.
The form of that race looks very solid and he did well to finish fourth on ground faster than he prefers.
Conditions are bound to be heavy at the Welsh course and the word from the Lavelle camp is that he is in great order.