News Date 14/12/16
The King George VI Chase, The race of the decade in the making?
The National Hunt season although running for almost 12 months these days really does start going during the month of October and ends at the end of April.
During that time there are two main peaks the second, of course, is at the Cheltenham Festival, shortly followed by the Aintree Festival in March and April. However there is also a peak at around Christmas time, with horses having often had their initial run and now going on to their early-season peak. For punters this period is a very good time to carefully examine horse racing odds on special markets
including top jockeys, special distance and etc. The top meeting in the UK is the Kempton Christmas meeting with the main event taking place on Boxing Day which is the King George VI Chase. This race is open to horses aged four years or older at a distance of around 3 miles. Although Kempton is by no means an easy course it is a flat park course and does not have the undulations of Cheltenham, nor does it have the massive fences of Aintree. What makes the King George VI Chase such a good race is that top class chasers take on each other at level weights and there are rarely any excuses in the race. What makes this race so good is the championship pace that the race is run at. This will often catch out younger horses who may not have experienced this sort of frenetic pace before. It is always won by a very good horse and often a horse That Goes on to Win Major Prizes throughout the Season.
This can be seen with Gold Cup winners Kauto Star, Long Run and Best Mate taking this race. Although this race can sometimes seem daunting from a betting point of view multiple winners in the race are very common and If we go back over the past 30 Years we have had many multiple winners with the likes of Sivininaco Conti (2), Kauto Star (6), Kicking King (2), Long run (2), One Man (2), Desert Orchid (4). So as you can see past Kempton form especially in the race is a marked advantage.
This year's race could easily, not only be an exceptionally good race but could be one of the all-time classics. Early entries at this stage for horses like past winner Silvininaco Conti and last year's winner Cue Card taking on each other again.
Whilst it could be argued that Silvininaco Conti is not at his peak anymore at 10 years old it would certainly not be beyond him at this time in his career with the likes of Kauto Star and Desert Orchid taking this race in their 11th year. Last seasons winner Cue Card had a fantastic season last year with only one disappointing run when he fell when going really well in the Cheltenham Gold cup. He's had two runs this season the first at Weatherby where he was perhaps a little lacklustre was followed by a really good win in the Betfair Chase at Haydock where he beat another of his rivals today, the 2015 Gold cup winner Coneygree by 15 lengths. That was a really good performance and today they should be battling it out together although connections of Coneygree did state that they are very very concerned about the good ground that we have been experiencing so far this winter for their horse who really loves soft ground. Coneygree's run in the Betfair Chase should be taken in the context that he has been off the course for a long time and that looked a very encouraging run after almost a year off.
One horse who everybody will certainly be looking for is the extremely smart top class chaser Thistlecrack who will put his unbeaten record over fences to the test. Thistlecrack is a stablemate of the favourite Cue Card and the trainer Colin Tizzard must be thanking his lucky stars to have to of the top chasers running from his yard.
With these three horses alone in the race, we would be having a tremendous spectacle but we also have good British runners at big prices with a smart and up-and-coming seven-year-old Blaklion from the Nigel Twiston Davies yard, and the smart young chaser Tea For Two both available at big odds.
There is also likely to be some of the good Irish chasers also coming over to take part in the race with the very smart Douvan, Vroum Vroum Mag, Road to Riches and Outlander all entered at this early stage.
The main contender from Ireland would obviously be Douvan who has done nothing wrong in his career. A French import he does well on soft ground, but actually saying this horse does well is understating his talent. In his last number of races he has won by 22 lengths, 11 lengths, 14 lengths, 7 lengths (in the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival), 15 lengths and 18 lengths, actually the list goes on and his shortest winning distance was 2 1/2 lengths and that was only in his second ever race. It would be absolutely marvellous to see this horse taking part in this race before he goes to Cheltenham to either take part in the Gold cup or perhaps more likely the Queen Mother Champion Chase. However, he does also have a Christmas entry at Leopardstown.
Should all of these horses stand their ground this will be one race you will not want to miss.