King George VI Chase tips – Ante-post review of Kempton’s Boxing day feature
As we gear up for the Festive period and some terrific horse racing action over Christmas we take an ante-post look at Kempton’s Boxing Day feature and pick out our King George VI Chase tips for what promises to be a cracking renewal.
Christmas crackers aren’t reserved for the dining table on Christmas Day and the equine world serves up another not-to-be missed renewal of the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day at Kempton with the Grade One contest being the jewel in the crown over the Christmas period.
One of the most prestigious jumps races in the National Hunt calendar and arguably only second to the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, the festive three-miler boasts a fantastic roll-call of winners including the likes of Cue Card, Kauto Star, Silviniaco Conti, Best Mate and Kicking King just a few of the top-class names to have won this prize.
The 2020 renewal will see Clan Des Obeaux bid for a hat-trick of wins in the race having taken top honours in each of the last two years and with more than £110,000 up for grabs for the winner there’s another strong line-up for the Kempton three-mile highlight that gets underway from 3.00pm.
We’ve taken a look through the big-race field for our ante-post preview of the festive feature and give our King George VI Chase tips for the Boxing Day highlight.
KING GEORGE VI CHASE TIPS – ANTE-POST PREVIEW OF KEMPTON’S BOXING DAY FEATURE
CLAN DES OBEAUX
Winner of this race for the past two seasons, Paul Nicholls’ charge currently heads the betting to make it a hat-trick in the contest and the Kapgarde gelding boasts excellent claims.
Having thwarted Thistlecrack in 2018 he followed up twelve months ago with a defeat of stablemate Cyrname who could reoppose although he was disappointing for the second year running when contesting the Cheltenham Gold Cup and it may be that venue doesn’t suit him as well as the flatter tracks where he’s produced most of his best efforts.
Having had wind surgery in the interim he ran well on his return in the Betfair Chase behind Bristol De Mai, eventually finishing two length runner-up to the Haydock specialist in ground that might have just found him out late on.
He’s sure to be sharper for that run however and the ground at Kempton on Boxing Day rarely gets as testing so if building on the return to action he could prove the one to beat.
Already a smart sort having won Graded contests as a novice, his progress appeared to have stalled in his first couple of runs in the 2018/19 season before he demolished a decent field of handicappers at Ascot by a wide martin enroute to a first Grade One victory in the 2019 Ascot Chase.
Paul Nicholls’ charge returned last term to end Altior’s unbeaten record over obstacles prior to chasing home his stablemate Clan Des Obeaux in this race, but he was beaten when falling back at Ascot when defending his Ascot Chase crown in a disappointing outing.
The Nickname gelding however bounced back on his latest seasonal debut, beating Vinndication in the Charlie Hall Chase, travelling strongly and scoring comfortably in the end although it arguably wasn’t the strongest of fields he vanquished and he’ll face a stiffer test now.
He didn’t appear to get home in this race twelve months ago and while the Wetherby win came over the same trip his stamina could just be tested in a stronger field although he’s certainly entitled to go close on last season’s run.
Another from Paul Nicholls, the ex-Willie Mullins trained Loup Breton gelding was a Grade Two winner last term, beating Footpad before being pulled up at Gowran Park behind Chris’s Dream.
He ran a screamer though in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, still in contention to two out before fading late into sixth; but he wasn’t able to replicate that performance on his reappearance in the recent Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase, finishing last of the three who completed although both of the horses who finished ahead of him had had prior runs.
That run might just have been needed and he could do better now with the outing under his belt although on form to date he probably needs to find a bit more at this level.
There’d likely be no more popular winner than Frodon who has jumped into the hearts of the nation through his association with Bryony Frost and his never-say-die attitude to racing.
The 2019 Ryanair Chase capped an unforgettable season for horse and rider who both went from strength to strength throughout that campaign, and he continued to run well last term despite being beaten in his first two runs of the season at Aintree and Haydock respectively prior to getting back to winning ways over this course in the Grade Two Silviniaco Conti Chase.
He finished fourth in defence of his Ryanair Chase crown before making a winning comeback this season at Cheltenham, beating West Approach and he might not have been suited by the way the recent Many Clouds Chase developed where several obstacles were omitted.
The Nickname gelding is 2-3 at Kempton and his attitude as always will stand him in good stead as he returns to Grade One company. He’s dangerous to discount although there’s still a nagging suspicion that he’s not truly a Grade One competitor at this trip; nevertheless he’s sure to give it a good go if lining up.
Took a couple of runs to sort out his jumping over fences but he always looked a potentially top-class staying chaser and Colin Tizzard’s charge developed well along those lines and relished the step up to three miles when winning the 2019 Aintree Bowl by six lengths from Topofthegame.
Having won his first two starts last term which included the Betfair Chase he disappointed in this race twelve months ago, pulled up having struggled with his breathing. Following wind surgery and fitted with a tongue-tie he bounced back to post a very creditable third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup where he was beaten just over one length and heavy ground possibly didn’t suit on his reappearance back at Haydock in defence of his Betfair Chase crown.
He should come on for that effort and prove an altogether different proposition now where his Cheltenham Festival run puts him firmly in the mix although the current form of the Tizzard camp is a concern. But if back to his best then it would be no surprise to see the Flemensfirth gelding going close and he’s not easily passed over.
Was well fancied for this prize in 2018 when unseating his rider having been hampered by the fall of Bristol De Mai and things haven’t gone to plan since for the fragile son of Flemensfirth who has made the racecourse only three times since.
Ruth Jefferson’s charge was firmly swept aside by Cyrname at Ascot on his next outing and first-time cheekpieces failed to deliver the desired effect at Aintree where he finished almost thirty lengths’ behind Min in the Melling Chase.
Not seen out again until returning in last season’s Tingle Creek, he travelled well in that contest and was only beaten one length by Defi Du Seuil in claiming the bronze medal; but a series of injuries since meant that was his only run of the season and it would be a big ask of him to win this on his reappearance where he has to prove stamina for three miles while he really needs soft ground to be seen at his best.
Given his troubles it remains to be seen how much ability remains in the nine-year old who certainly wasn’t short of talent in his younger days and he’s perhaps best watched for now.
Won his first three starts as a novice prior to going off far too hard in the 2018 Arkle Chase; however he’s only won twice since and has come up short at this level on more than one occasion although he ran a blinder in defeat behind Min at the Cheltenham Festival when last seen.
Harry Whittington’s charge was only beaten a neck by Min on that occasion, not helped by making a mistake at the last when challenging although he ran on well up the hill. That form looks all the stronger now and the Saint Des Saints gelding is no forlorn hope if improving for this step up in trip although he does need to find more on balance of his form.
He goes particularly well fresh however and he’s won all three starts when making his seasonal bow while he’s versatile with regards to ground although softer conditions would be more in his favour. There could be further improvement to come from him and if seeing out the longer trip then he could go well at a big price.
Got off the mark at the first attempt over fences last term but was beaten behind Champ and Slate House respectively in subsequent starts at Newbury and here on the corresponding card twelve months ago in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.
Tom George’s charge possibly needed his first run at Carlisle behind Imperial Aura but he disappointed at Newbury in the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase when finishing ninth although may have been stretched by the trip.
Solid hurdles form at the top level suggests he could yet do better over fences but this looks a very tough test for the Sandmason gelding who perhaps lacks the scope of some of the younger horses and hard to make a case for him at this level.
Supplemented for this race by trainer Nicky Henderson the imposing Milan gelding doesn’t have many miles on the clock over fences but boasts an excellent record with three wins and three runner-up efforts from seven starts over the larger obstacles.
Those wins have all come on much stiffer tracks however than Kempton and he was beaten on his only previous run at this venue when behind La Bague Au Roi on this racecard in 2018 where he tackled the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and he was beaten around four lengths. He’s also twice finished runner-up at the Cheltenham Festival, firstly behind Topofthegame in the 2019 RSA Chase and latterly chasing home Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup back in March.
He possibly just needed the run at Aintree on his reappearance in the Many Clouds Chase behind Lake View Lad where he appeared to run in snatches but he responded well to his rider’s urgings and perhaps the omission of the two fences in the straight weren’t ideal with the race turning into a bit of a sprint from turning in. Sure to be sharper now however he can build on that effort to go well here but he might just find this sharper track and the emphasis on speed against him.
KING GEORGE VI CHASE TIPS – ANTE-POST VERDICT FOR KEMPTON’S BOXING DAY FEATURE
Clan Des Obeaux looks sure to go well again as he bids for a hat-trick in this race and his recent Betfair Chase run will have him spot on for this where he can confirm the form from 2019’s renewal with Cyrname who despite winning the Charlie Hall Chase has to conclusively prove he gets this far.
That Wetherby win came in a relatively weak renewal and this will be tougher; while Frodon would be a popular winner although may just lack the quality to win at the highest level over this trip despite being a dual-Grade One winner over shorter distances.
The decision to supplement Santini for the race is noteworthy but it could be worth siding with Colin Tizzard’s LOSTINTRANSLATION who ran as if the outing was needed on his reappearance in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month.
The Flemensfirth gelding got better and better over fences during his novice campaign, winning the Dipper Novices’ Chase from Defi Du Seuil on New Years’ Day 2019 and following back-to-back runner-up efforts behind the same rival stepped up to three miles at Aintree where he was a comfortable winner of the Mildmay Novices’ Chase. He did pull up in this race twelve months ago however on the back of a pair of wins which included the Betfair Chase but he reportedly suffered a breathing problem and following wind surgery bounced back with an excellent Gold Cup third behind Al Boum Photo.
Heavy ground may not have suited on his reappearance behind Bristol De Mai and Clan Des Obeaux, but he’s sure to be sharper for that return and the better surface should be more suitable so it would be no surprise if he were to prove a different proposition this time around where he can get back to winning ways.