King George VI is a grade 1 Steeplechase for horses of 4 years and older at Kempton Racecourse on Boxing day over a distance of 3 miles.
The King George VI is the best top class race at this time of year. Runners often include the best chasers in the country and it's only real rival race is the Cheltenham Gold cup in March.
This years race is an absolute cracker with a number of the runners in with a good chance today.
We will start with Bristol De Mai. He is a really good horse at Haydock Park and runs there a few pounds better than anywhere else, up to now. He had a breathing op last season before his last run and ran well. He was back at his beloved Haydock on his first start of the season where he took apart a really good field in the Betfair Chase. He is perhaps a little overlooked because of this Haydock bias and is available at a good price. Is he now as good at other tracks? Today we should find out.
Clan Des Obeaux is the youngster in the field. No doubt a good consistent type but at present not up to this class is would seem. He was over 8 lengths behind Bristol De Mai last time out and over 10 behind Might Bite at the end of last season. Plenty of improvement to come from this horse but you have to feel this is not his year.
The opposite end of the age scale comes Coneygree. An 11-year-old past Gold Cup winner. He had a terrible time last season being pulled up on both his starts. He was better on his return this season taking 3rd in a big field won by Rock the Kasbah in the Bet Victor at Cheltenham. He ran and jumped really well that day and is a massive price. Not without a chance of his form returning but others make more appeal today.
Double Shuffle is a good horse and was second last season in this race by a length but was subsequently beaten by the same horse who put 40 lengths between them at Aintree. A good second last time out but this horse is second too many times and often finds one in the field too good. He is a massive price but he will need to improve to win this very competitive race unless the field diminishes in the race.
Might Bite won this race in good style last year. He was idling at the end of the race and the margin of his win does not reflect how well he won. He went straight to the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham festival after and battled with another of today's opponents Native River. The race was run at a fierce pace and he only faded towards the end of the race to finish second. He is possibly better at 3 miles than the extra two furlongs of the Gold Cup and that puts him in the box seat today. Despite this is a good race he is a worthy favourite in the known form.
Last years Gold Cup winner Native River is a first-class steeplechaser. He runs his heart out in a race and goes well for the champion jockey Richard Johnson. Although he has won at this distance he is a dour stayer and that could be his undoing in this race today. He ran a great race on his season's debut at Haydock Park and was going as well as any in the race but this fast pace three-mile contest may just be a bit too sharp for him. He will once again give you a great run for your money and is likely to make the frame but this may just not be as stiff a stamina test as he requires to outgallop his field.
Politologue is a really good consistent horse at distances up to around two and a half miles.He has a good racing style and travels well in his races. We have not seen him run at this distance before so we can’t be sure he will stay but if he does he will have a great chance. He is moving up from the 2mile division which is so dominated by Altior and this looks like a natural progression. Can’t be ruled out and today we will find out if he can stay.
Tea for Two is a good horse who was 3 length 3rd in this race last season. That was the best run that he had all season as his form came off the tracks. I suspect he would have to put in a career-best here to win and that seems unlikely.
The most interesting runner in the race is perhaps the 2016 winner Thistlecrack. He is a real fast-paced chaser and has proved he is the type for this race. He seems to be coming back to form after a spate of injuries kept him on the sideline. His 3rd to Bristol De Mai in the Betfair chase was eye-catching for two reasons the first was that he makes a number of jumping errors and second his run on from the last. He was never comfortable in that race but still had the pace to run on. There were plenty of people complaining about the size of the fences that day and making a mistake early on may well have hit his confidence. A return to his jumping form will put him up with the favourite today and his good pace hopefully will keep him in touch. He does look like the horse that may just give Might Bite a race come the final furlong and is overpriced in the market.
The final runner in the race is the very smart Waiting Patiently who is unbeaten over fences. He is a grade 1 winner so he has the class for the race but is unproven over this trip. His last win over 2m 5f was a really good run and he was staying on at the end of the race so a step up in trip needs to be on the agenda. He is young and improving but comes here after 312 days off on his seasonal debut. This would not normally be ideal but I suspect that his connections have not given him a prep in fear of the second run “bounce factor” which seems to come on horses second run after a layoff. A good chance if he stays.
So there you have it a great race in prospect. If all horses ran as they have recently I see no reason to oppose Might Bite who just may have everything in his favour today and he gets the vote, but if Thistlecrack jumps better he would be a worry and therefore gets the nod for next best.
Race Conditions: For 4yo+ which are allotted a rating of 130 or more by the BHA head of handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including the day prior to confirmation. Horses which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain, Ireland or France may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible providing the handicapper is satisfied that the horse's racecourse performances up to and including the day prior to confirmation would merit a minimum rating of 130. The decision of the BHA head of handicapping shall be final. Weights 4yo 11st 3lb; 5yo+ 11st 10lb Allowances fillies & mares 7lb
|1||11632-1• D • GELDING||Bristol de Mai (FR)||7||11st 10lbs||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Daryl Jacob||169|
|2||4/2123-4 • GELDING||Clan des Obeaux (FR)||6||11st 10lbs||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden||160|
|3||1/23/PP-3• CD • GELDING||Coneygree (GB)||11||11st 10lbs||Mark Bradstock||Sean Bowen||160|
|4||2204-F2• CD • GELDING||Double Shuffle (IRE)||8||11st 10lbs||Tom George||Jonathan Burke||157|
|5||1/1121-5• CD • GELDING||Might Bite (IRE)||9||11st 10lbs||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville||172|
|6||113/11-2• D • GELDING||Native River (IRE)||8||11st 10lbs||Colin Tizzard||Richard Johnson||176|
|7||11241-1• C • GELDING||Politologue (FR)||7||11st 10lbs||Paul Nicholls||Sam Twiston-Davies||168|
|8||3P06-P3• CD • GELDING||Tea For Two (GB)||9||11st 10lbs||Mrs Jane Williams||Lizzie Kelly||157|
|9||112/54-3• CD • GELDING||Thistlecrack (GB)||10||11st 10lbs||Colin Tizzard||Tom Scudamore||165|
|10||111/111-• C • GELDING||Waiting Patiently (IRE)||7||11st 10lbs||Ruth Jefferson||Brian Hughes||170|
|1||4/2123-4 • GELDING||Clan des Obeaux (FR)||6||11st 10lbs||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden||160|
|2||112/54-3• CD • GELDING||Thistlecrack (GB)||10||11st 10lbs||Colin Tizzard||Tom Scudamore||165|
|3||113/11-2• D • GELDING||Native River (IRE)||8||11st 10lbs||Colin Tizzard||Richard Johnson||176|
|4||11241-1• C • GELDING||Politologue (FR)||7||11st 10lbs||Paul Nicholls||Sam Twiston-Davies||168|
|5||2204-F2• CD • GELDING||Double Shuffle (IRE)||8||11st 10lbs||Tom George||Jonathan Burke||157|
|6||3P06-P3• CD • GELDING||Tea For Two (GB)||9||11st 10lbs||Mrs Jane Williams||Lizzie Kelly||157|
|7||1/1121-5• CD • GELDING||Might Bite (IRE)||9||11st 10lbs||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville||172|
|F||11632-1• D • GELDING||Bristol de Mai (FR)||7||11st 10lbs||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Daryl Jacob||169|
|UR||1/23/PP-3• CD • GELDING||Coneygree (GB)||11||11st 10lbs||Mark Bradstock||Sean Bowen||160|
|UR||111/111-• C • GELDING||Waiting Patiently (IRE)||7||11st 10lbs||Ruth Jefferson||Brian Hughes||170|