Top chasers will be out in force at Kempton for a King George to remember.
CONSIDERED one of the biggest jumps races of the year and a major guide to potential winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the King George VI Chase is gearing up to be a battle of the finest in British and Irish staying chasers.
The early betting for the highlight of the Boxing Day fixture list has Clan Des Obeaux installed as 11/4 favourite as per UK horse betting offers for the three-mile test, the nine-year-old looking to make it three wins from four runs in the Kempton feature.
Paul Nicholls boasts a phenomenal record in the race, training ten of the last 15 winners, including the legend of the Surrey track, Kauto Star – the two-time Gold Cup winner took five King George VI crowns.
The 12-times champion trainer is clearly a big fan of the race, with his record total of wins coming from just five horses, four of his training successes being multiple winners.
Clan Des Obeaux was beaten into third place last year by the fellow Nicholls-trained Frodon, who is available at 11/2 to repeat the win from 12 months ago. The Nicholls pair are separated in the betting by Irish raider Minella Indo, Henry de Bromhead looking for a first training success in the race with the Gold Cup winner.
It will be the eight-year-old’s first attempt at the King George, and only his second run since winning at Cheltenham in March, finishing behind Frodon at Down Royal in October.
De Bromhead admitted his surprise at how much his horse needed the October run, and despite his position as second favourite, the trainer appears unsure whether the race is right for his charge.
De Bromhead said: “I know he’s maybe not your typical King George horse, but we’ll certainly weigh it up closer to the time.
“He’ll come on plenty for Down Royal. He was a little bit shorter than I thought he was and caught me out a little but still ran a cracker. Fair play to the Nicholls team; Frodon was in great shape on the day and we look forward to taking him on again, some day.”
That day could be late in December, and if Minella Indo isn’t ready for the trip, De Bromhead has another live contender in the shape of Envoi Allen.
After falling in the Marsh Novices Chase at the Festival in March and then pulling up at Punchestown in April, there was pressure on the seven-year-old in his reappearance at Down Royal.
But he jumped well and dictated from the front for an easy 22-length success, admittedly against a less than impressive field.
Willie Mullins will be looking for his first King George success for 20 years, saddling Allaho and Al Boum Photo, the former amongst the fancied runners at 8/1 following his success in the Ryanair at Prestbury Park.
Al Boum Photo is available at a seemingly generous 20/1, the two-time Gold Cup winner has run rarely since a first win in Cheltenham’s biggest race in 2019, with Mullins recently confirming he plans to run the nine-year-old more frequently.
Current champion trainer Nicky Henderson’s bid to land a fourth King George is led by Chantry House, the seven-year-old is in the midst of a very impressive run of form, winning all his four previous runs, including successes at the Cheltenham Festival and at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.
Admittedly his most recent win was against just one opponent, Colin Tizzard’s The Big Breakaway, a very distant second at Sandown in November.
But Chantry House is developing into a top-class stayer, and the price of 6/1 for the December 26 event is very attractive.
As well as the King George, it might be also worth looking into an ante post wager on Chantry House for next year’s Gold Cup, with around 12/1 offered on Henderson’s star.
The early betting for next year’s Festival feature is led by De Bromhead trio A Plus Tard (7/2), Minella Indo (11/2) and Envoi Allen (8/1).