Footpad Could Step Up in Distance for King George at Kempton
The Willie Mullins trained Footpad was an exciting winner of the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival last season, showing he had the natural speed and jumping ability to race over two miles. However, there is a question mark over what is best distance actually is, and that is something that we could see tested this season, hopefully giving us a definitive answer as to what this horse will be going forward.
Willie Mullins has announced that the horse will begin his campaign over two miles this season, but could be stepped up to three miles for the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day. This would put Footpad up against the best staying chasers we have, and would be a huge test for the second season chaser. If he passes the test and shows he has the stamina for that type of race, he could turn into a Gold Cup horse, while if he doesn’t quite last home the Ryanair or the Queen Mother Champion Chase will be where he ends up.
According to the betting markets it is the Champion Chase that he is fancied most for. He is generally a 7/2 chance for that race, and has been installed as the second favourite behind Altior. That would be a fantastic clash between two greats, but should Footpad move up in distance, he will face equally as tough animals there. The possibility of him joining Native River, Might Bite, Thistlecrack and many more in a King George, and then potentially again in the Gold Cup is something that racing fans would certainly savour.
Having a horse as versatile as Footpad in the yard is brilliant for Willie Mullins, but it also poses some tough questions to him. We don’t yet know what trip is best for Footpad, but we are hoping to find that out this season. Either way, this is one extremely talented horse, who is well worth following throughout the season, no matter where he goes.
Whether it is Altior in the Champion Chase or Native River in the Gold Cup, this is a horse that is more than capable of dethroning a reigning champion at the Cheltenham Festival next March. His path to the festival is something that needs to be plotted, but there is no doubt that this horse will be capable of mixing it with the very best where ever he ends up.