The King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day is one of the biggest jumps races of the season and historically provides a good pointer towards the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Ten out of the last eleven King George winners have won a Gold Cup, including the great Kauto Star. This year’s race has attracted some of the best 3 mile chasers in training and promises to be an absolute cracker!
The first step when assessing any ante-post market is to determine which of the entrants are actually likely to contest the race. Looking at this year’s renewal, I’m pretty certain that the three Irish horses near the head of the market; Sir Des Champs (12/1 Betfred), Mount Benbulben (12/1 Coral) and Flemenstar (16/1 Ladbrokes), will stay in Ireland and head to the Lexus. It’s also more than likely that outsiders Captain Conan (25/1 Betfred) and Katenko (33/1 Ladbrokes) will be rerouted to easier options.
– 9 out of the last 10 winners have come from the first two in the betting.
– 7 out of the last 10 favourites have won the race.
– 10 out of the last 10 winners all ran in a Grade 1 race at Cheltenham in the previous year.
– 10 out of the last 10 winners has previously won two or more Grade 1 races.
– 7 out of the last 10 winners had at least placed over course & distance.
Cue Card (5/2 Ladbrokes) is the ante-post favourite after a brilliant success in the Betfair Chase. Colin Tizzard’s 7yo has always shown plenty of ability and thanks to his recent Haydock victory he is a worthy favourite for the King George. Now a four times Grade 1 winner, this horse is expected to run a big race before heading on to Cheltenham. Obviously, he has strong claims on recent form (you can put a line through his efforts in the Haldon Gold Cup, as that was clearly no more than a prep race), however his run in last year’s renewal is certainly a concern. He was beaten 20 lengths in heavy ground and although I expect him to continue to improve, the memory of that defeat is difficult to ignore.
DYNASTE (4/1 Coral) is no stranger to Kempton after winning the Feltham here last year. Since then he has finished second in the Jewson, won the Mildmay at Aintree, and finished second to Cue Card in the Betfair Chase. David Pipe thinks the world of this horse and his run at Haydock was particularly impressive considering he was up against some very good seasoned chasers. I’m confident that his past experiences at Kempton will stand him in good stead and I’m also confident that this horse has plenty more to offer.
As per usual; Paul Nicholls will be represented by at least one, if not two horses who are genuine contenders. Silviniaco Conti (7/1 Coral) proved he is a top class horse by winning last year’s Betfair Chase and finishing second in the Feltham last year. However, despite his good overall record; this horse has failed to win in his last three starts and may well take his chance in the Lexus. His stablemate Al Ferof (6/1 Betfred), is familiar to big race successes and has been aimed at this race for a while now. He made a satisfactory reappearance from injury at Ascot in a two runner race a fortnight ago and impressed with his jumping. Obvious concerns rest on his lack of course and distance winning form so a lot will depend on the faith punters are prepared to put in his trainer.
Long Run (16/1 Ladbrokes) and Captain Chris (20/1 Betfred) are no strangers to this race after battling out the finish last year. Long Run is a dual winner of this race, and those experiences could be crucial to his chances of claiming a third King George. Despite this positive, the horse has failed to win since last year’s heroics and looks a shadow of his former self. Captain Chris hasn’t been seen since April but is known to run well fresh and will be primed for this assignment. Some will say that the horse was unlucky to lose to Long Run but to me it looked like he lacked the quality needed to win and he has been exposed over 3m+ for some time now.
Others in with a shout include last year’s RSA winner – Lord Windermere (20/1 Sportingbet), who could put up a strong challenge if recoviering from his exertions in the Hennessy. Harry Topper (unpriced) excelled at Wetherby last time and could be a big price if taking up its entry here. The Giant Bolster (40/1 Coral) has also been contesting these races for a while now but was pulled up here last year.
All in all, this year’s renewal of the King George VI Chase looks like a mouthwatering one. Most of the horses that head the betting are previous Grade 1 winners and pretty much all bar one of the top chasers in training are present in the entries. For me DYNASTE is the one to look out for, I think that there will be a lot of improvement to come from this horse and he will come on for the run at Haydock. A previous Grade 1 win at Kempton is a massive positive and I think the horse will be able to follow in the footsteps of Long Run who won the Feltham on route to King George glory the following year. Nonetheless, at this early stage you cannot write off the chances of Al Ferof, Cue Card, or Silviniaco Conti, in what could be an epic trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
DYNASTE (WIN) (4/1 Coral)
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