Coleman gets the Christmas call to ride Whisper in King George

Christmas has come early for jockey Aidan Coleman, who on Friday picked up the big-race ride on Ladbrokes Trophy second Whisper in Tuesday's 32Red King George VI Chase.

Regular jockey Davy Russell, who has partnered the nine-year-old on his last six starts, has a riding commitment in Ireland with Coleman taking over aboard last season's RSA Chase runner-up, who will renew rivalry with stablemate Might Bite at Kempton.

Owner Dai Walters described the circumstances regarding Russell missing the ride as "just one of those things."

Walters said: "Davy had promised a long-time owner six months ago he would ride a horse in Ireland and he couldn’t get out of it. 

"Aidan has schooled the horse – we could have had Richard Johnson or Noel Fehily – but I left it to Nicky and he picked Aidan, who has ridden winners for us.

"It’s just one of those things with Davy – he can’t do anything about it. Davy would have been first choice but he committed himself six months ago to his owner in Ireland so there’s no problem with that.”

Whisper is a best-price 9-1 with bet365 and Sky Bet to land a first Grade 1 chase success in the King George. 

Walters said: “I'm very much looking forward to it – it looks a hot race but I think he’ll be in the first three.

“He ran a super race in a strong renewal of the Ladbrokes Trophy and has won around Kempton.”

Coleman will be riding the Nicky Henderson-trained Whisper for the first time as he seeks an inaugural top-level triumph.

He told Racing UK: "It's fantastic to be part of what's going to be a great race.

"Whisper’s run in the Ladbrokes Trophy was brilliant, and any soft ground at Kempton will really suit him."

Clerk of the course Barney Clifford expects the going to be a variation of good to soft, with good in places appearing if the track cops the lower end of rainfall forecasts, while the upper end would inflict soft in places upon the description.

"I've got two different forecasts, one with 20mm and one with 5mm, so I have no idea," he said. "We're currently good to soft and soft on the bend adjacent to the lake."

He added: "It's really volatile and sporadic – to have two forecasts so far apart, it's like the north and south pole. All I can do is tell people where we are."