A true great of the jumps world retired yesterday as it was finally confirmed that Kauto Star was heading off to pasture for all the grass he could eat. Trainer Paul Nicholls and owner Clive Smith had refused to rule their dual Gold Cup winner out of another campaign in the aftermath of a disappointing tilt at this year’s Gold Cup.
There was speculation about one last throw of the dice that would hopefully end with the horse’s sixth win in the King George Chase, but all parties have agreed that the horse owes them nothing and is best served by being allowed to enjoy his remaining years away from the racecourse.
Writing exclusively for the Paddy Power Blog, Ruby Walsh, who partnered the superstar in all five of his King Georges and both his Gold Cups, said “Kauto Star was a superstar. He was a wonderful horse to ride and he gave me some of the best days I’ll ever have as a jockey.”
With another Boxing Day victory at Kempton now out of the question, the King George Chase betting is now somewhat clearer. Long Run is the 3/1 favourite to add to his 2011 King George victory with Grand Crus and Bobs Worth rated his closest challengers are 5/1 and 6/1 respectively.
It was another thrilling night of action on the Capital Fun Cup with Chelsea and Manchester United sharing nine goals between them in a thrilling game at the Bridge. It was the Blues who prevailed 5-4 after extra time following a last gasp penalty from Eden Hazard which made it 3-3 after 90 minutes.
It wasn’t as controversial as Sunday’s Premier League encounter with no complaints of ‘abusive language’. Yet. The drama was largely of the enjoyable variety thanks to the football. Ryan Giggs scored a brace for the visitors and the reason that merits being highlighted is because that makes it an incredible 23 seasons in a row that he has scored a goal.
Elsewhere there was no shortage of drama as the defending champions, Liverpool were shocked by Swansea after an abject performance at Anfield. Brendan Rodgers made sweeping changes to the side he sent out for the Merseyside Derby, but better would have been expected from some of his squad players. The focus will be on the Reds’ poor performance, but the Swans deserve immense credit and deserved their convincing 3-1 winners.
At Carrow Road, Norwich came up with two goals in the last 6 minutes to turn things around against Tottenham. Garth Bale put Spurs in front, but an own goal from Jan Vertonghen and the winner from Simeon Jackson but the Canaries through. Clint Dempsey had the chance to level things from the penalty spot, but his attempt to rip a hole in the net was saved by Mark Bunn.
The draw for the quarter-finals has been made and it has thrown up some interesting ties. Paul Lambert gets another reunion with Norwich when Villa make the trip to Carrow Road. Bradford and Leeds will be trying to prove the big boys of Arsenal and Chelsea don’t like it up ‘em respectively. Having reached the last eight of the league cup for the first time, Swansea will fancy their chances of reaching their first ever semi-final of the league cup thanks to a home draw against Middlesbrough.
Bradford v Arsenal
Leeds United v Chelsea
Norwich City v Aston Villa
Swansea v Middlesbrough
Chelsea are the favourites in the Capital One Cup betting. They’re 11/8 with Arsenal not far behind at 2/1. After that, Swansea are rated an 8/1 chance with Aston Villa 9/1 and Norwich 12/1. Middlesbrough are rated the best hope of the clubs outside the top flight with odds of 14/1.
Andy Murray’s chances of making a great year even better has received a huge boost at the ATP Paris Masters. The reigning Olympic and US Open champion couldn’t have wished for a better Wednesday afternoon with his chief rival for the title, Novak Djokovic suffering a shock defeat at the hands of Sam Querrey. The world number one had taken the first set to love and was as short as 1/500 to book his passage to the next round, but an amazing comeback from the American saw Nole taste an unlikely defeat.
Later in the day, Murray secured his place in the third round with a straight sets over local wildcard, Paul-Henri Mathieu. Nearly 2,500 ranking points separate Murray and his next highest ranked rival, David Ferrer and the Scot is the 11/10 favourite to take his first Paris Masters title. The betting says Juan Martin del Potro is his biggest threat with the in-form Argentine 7/2 for victory.
Murray takes on world number 64, Jerzy Janowicz in the third round. He’s due on court at around 1pm (GMT) and he’s the red hot 1/16 favourite to make it to the quarter-finals.