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Lofty Christmas target underlines Johns Spirit’s Ryanair chances

| 11.12.2014

If it wasn’t already apparent, the presence of Johns Spirit as a 25/1-rated protagonist among the entries for the 2014 King George suggests he isn’t your average handicapper.

As much should already be clear from his run in this year’s Paddy Power Chase, where he was beaten by a head, despite running off 17lbs higher than when winning the 2013 race.

Regardless of how he performs in the Boxing Day highlight, the fact that his trainer is willing to pitch the seven-year-old in against the likes of Dynaste and Cue Card at Kempton suggests he is ready to leave weight-for-ratings affairs behind.

With a paid-up Cheltenham aficionado such as the son of Goldwell, thoughts of the Festival are never far away and his King George date serves to highlight what a cracking 14/1 bet for the Ryanair Chase he is.

Jonjo O’Neill’s chaser hasn’t finished worse than fifth in his last six visits to the Cotswolds course, despite carrying hefty handicap weights since his win in the 2013 Paddy Power, winning three times.

That the Open Meeting highlight is a reasonable trial for the Ryanair is vouched for by the fact the highest-placed runner from the handicap has won the March race three times from nine representatives in the past decade.

Imperial Commander, another course lover, did the double most recently in the 2010 campaign, going on to land the Gold Cup a season later.

Being considered a King George horse puts the seven-year-old in the company of the last two Ryanair Chase winners, Cue Card and Dynaste, both of whom ran at Kempton last year.

A strong performance in his first foray at the highest level is guaranteed to see his Ryanair price tumble.

That Johns Sprit is as big as 14/1 in a race seemingly tailor made for him already seems generous given he’s far more likely to turn up than Champagne Fever and Taquin De Seuil, both of whom are shorter than him in the betting yet more likely to turn up in the Gold Cup.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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Thomas Reynolds