Midnight Shadow is set to be stepped up in trip for a crack at the the King George VI Chase
Midnight Shadow is set to be stepped up in trip for a crack at the the King George VI Chase

Trainer Sue Smith says the King George VI Chase at Kempton is a likely destination for Midnight Shadow after his victory in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday. 

The eight-year-old earned a three-quarter-length victory over Protektorat in the 2m4f contest under the guidance of Grand National-winning jockey Ryan Mania. 

Last year's winner Coole Cody fell at the second-last when leading the field and Midnight Shadow, who was one of several contenders in close pursuit, took advantage. 

He jumped the last in front but had to hold off a late challenge from Protektorat up the hill to land the top prize for trainer Smith. 

"It's special, it's special for everyone because we're only a small yard and northern trainers don't get to do this very often, so it's lovely," Smith said. 

"I've probably got about 45-50 in training, but they are not all Midnight Shadows! I probably had a few more in when we won the National, but these are once-in-a-lifetime horses, the same as Auroras Encore was - and he's still in the field looking very well now." 

Smith admits they have been considering a step up in trip for some time and feels Midnight Shadow would be suited to three miles. 

With that in mind, the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day has emerged as a potential destination, according to the British trainer. 

Smith added: "I think the plan could be to go to Kempton for the big race - the King George. 

"We've been thinking of stepping him up to three miles for some time so we may as well do it then, if you don't try these things you don't know. Eventually he will get three miles, I'm sure. 

"You don't often come across a horse like this, so it's amazing to have him in our yard - he's obviously the best horse in our yard." 

Paul Nicholls has recent Chepstow winner Magistrato ready to go on Saturday
Paul Nicholls has recent Chepstow winner Magistrato ready to go on Saturday

Paul Nicholls has two strong hopes for the King George with Clan Des Obeaux and Frodon expected to be firmly in the mix once again. 

Clan Des Obeaux topped the field in 2018 and 2019 and won his last two outings at Aintree and Punchestown in April. 

Frodon, meanwhile, landed the prize for Nicholls in 2020 and is also on a two-race winning run following triumphs at Down Royal and Sandown. 

Nicholls has picked up 10 winners and a further six of his charges have placed in 30 previous entries to the showpiece race. 

Nicky Henderson was the last trainer to send out a winner prior to Nicholls' current streak of three when Might Bite was first past the post under Nico de Boinville. 

Chantry House, last seen when winning at Sandown on November 7, is Henderson's big hope this time around.

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