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King George VI Chase Tips

2018 King George VI Chase Preview

There is plenty of top-class festive fayre to look forward to in the horse racing calendar, with the week between Christmas and New Year packed solid with cracking racing action across the UK and Ireland.

Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival meeting which features multiple Grade One races, the Welsh Grand National and the Rowland Meyrick Chase are just a few of the highlights punters can look forward to; but the undoubted feature of the week goes to post on Boxing Day with the latest renewal of the famous King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Getting underway at 3.05pm, the three-mile contest is sure to serve up another Christmas cracker as some of the biggest names come together to contest this top-class event which boasts a first-prize in excess of £140,000 and the chance to join such luminaries as Cue Card, Silviniaco Conti, Kauto Star, Long Run, Kicking King, Edredon Bleu and Best Mate who have all won this race since the turn of the century.

Tip: Back Thistlecrack for the King George

Perhaps one to take out of the Betfair Chase was THISTLECRACK (9/1, Coral) who won this race in 2016, and Colin Tizzard’s charge made a very pleasing return at Haydock having been out for almost one year through injury.

The 2016 World Hurdle winner won his first four starts over fences, including this race when beating Cue Card prior to losing his unbeaten chase record when denied by a head behind Many Clouds in the Cotswold Chase. Oliver Sherwood’s Grand National winner sadly died soon after the race, and nothing can be taken away from the gutsy winner; Thistlecrack however was found to have sustained an injury in the heat of battle, while a relatively busy novice campaign may just have taken the edge from him.

He shaped well in this race last term following a dismal return over hurdles in the Long Distance Hurdle, beaten around six lengths having ultimately surrendered all chance of successfully defending his crown with a mistake at the second last fence.

Having now had a pipe-opener in the Betfair Chase where he posted a satisfactory comeback to finish third, he could well build on that and he remains one to be interested in. He didn’t always jump with fluency at Haydock, and he was deliberate at his fences on more than one occasion; but he showed more than enough to suggest most of his old ability remains intact, and he probably still has more to offer over fences.

King George VI Chase Star Rating Guide

With question marks against many of the established three miles, backing an up-and-coming stayer could be the way to go. Waiting Patiently is one of the two leading candidates stepping up and has been well supported in recent weeks. I, however, prefer the chances of Politologue and he’s going to be my five-star selection in the 2018 King George.

Paul Nicholls’ stunning grey has always been a classy operator, I just feared he didn’t have the battling qualities towards the end of a race you need to be a true champion. Those notions, however, dissipated at Aintree in the Melling Chase, where Politologue battled back valiantly after being headed by Min at the last to claim his second Grade One win of the campaign.

That triumph meant Politologue had to shoulder a penalty in the 1965 Christy Chase, but that didn’t stop Sam Twiston-Davies mount from outjumping his rivals and staying strong as Charbel – who boosted the form in the Peterborough Chase last weekend – to score at Ascot. While he may not produce that much off the bridle, Politologue tanks through his races and – if he has the leaders within his sights jumping the last – he could be this year’s king of Kempton.

King George VI Chase

Run over three-miles, the King George is renowned for being one of the most prestigious jump racing prizes of the campaign and frequently acts as the leading trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup raced in March. Britain and Ireland’s leading steeplechasers routinely collide for the first time each season in Kempton’s Grade One highlight as the division seeks to position itself ahead of the Cheltenham Festival in the spring. 

Founded in 1937 in honour of a new British monarch, the King George VI Chase offers a unique test to the National Hunt chaser. A total of eighteen fences on Kempton’s right-handed track ensures it is a real test of stamina, speed and jumping. The flat nature of the course can be deceiving to some connections with many claiming the emphasis of the King George is placed more on pace than the ability to see out the trip.

Previous winners of the great Boxing Day showpiece include Kauto Star, Desert Orchid and Wayward Lad, three of the greatest horses in National Hunt history. The Paul Nicholls-trained Kauto Star went on to win the King George on five separate occasions in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011. It was a feat regarded as amongst the best in the sport’s history and produced scenes of great jubilation at the Middlesex track across a six year spell. 

Kempton Park Racecourse

Kempton Park lies on the border of Greater London, and is the scene for the King George VI Chase, as well as notable races such as the Feltham Novices' Chase and the BetBright Chase, amongst others.

The main track features an all-weather synthetic track, while the flat races take place on the mile long  Jubilee Course. 

Kauto Star - Kempton Legend

Kauto Star possessed a tremendous attitude for the test that the King George provided. The gelded son of Village Star jumped with real fluency over the 18 obstacles before utilising his superior stamina and speed to see off his rivals on five different occasions. 

It is Kauto Star’s success that makes the King George such a great viewing spectacle both on and off course. The horse brought the sport into the mainstream during his racing career which ensured a memorable atmosphere for all in attendance. 

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