King George VI Chase Preview – Tuesday 26th December
Last updated: December 25, 2017 by Leon Marshal
The racing highlight on Boxing Day is the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton Park over three miles.
The King George is one of the most prestigious steeplechases of the season and the target of genuine Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders. It is not as much of a stamina test at Cheltenham on this flat track and frequently attracts horses previously untested over three miles.
Kauto Star set a new record of five King George victories for Paul Nicholls, surpassing the four victories of Desert Orchid. Nicholls has won the race nine times in all, most recently with Silviniaco Conti in 2014. Other notable winners include Arkle (1965), Wayward Lad (1982, 1983, 1985), One Man (1995, 1996) and Best Mate (2002). Colin Tizzard won the King George with Cue Card (2015) and Thistlecrack (2016). Both horses are set to line up on Boxing Day.
Might Bite favourite for King George
Nicky Henderson won the race with Long Run in 2010 and 2012. He saddles the favourite this year in Might Bite, the winner of the RSA Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival.
He looked to have that race well under control before idling on the long-run. He was caught by stable companion Whisper but battled back to win by a nose. He extended his advantage over that rival to two lengths at Aintree in April. He coasted to an eight lengths win at Sandown on his return to action and should have won here at the corresponding meeting last year. He was nearly 20 lengths clear when falling at the final fence. He has not put a foot wrong since and is likely to set the pace on Tuesday.
Whisper was a game second in the Ladbrokes Trophy, beaten just a neck by Total Recall. He was a high class hurdler and won at Kempton over a shorter trip in November.
Bristol De Mai bids to underline Gold Cup claims
Nigel Twiston-Davies is represented by Bristol De Mai, the easy winner of the Grade 1 Betfair Chase. The going was heavy that day and the grey is almost impossible to beat at Haydock when the ground is testing. His three victories at that track have been by an aggregate margin of 111 lengths.
Bristol De Mai had previously beaten Blaklion by half a length in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. The runner-up has won impressively since at Aintree while third home Definitly Red also won at the same meeting. The going is currently good to soft at Kempton and Twiston-Davies will be hoping for more rain over Christmas.
Thistlecrack trying to redeem reputation
Following his easy victory here 12 months’ ago, Thistlecrack was all the rage for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Tizzard ran him at Cheltenham in January where he was beaten by the ill-fated Many Clouds. Injury prevented him from lining up at the Festival and he looked in need of the run when fifth over hurdles at Newbury. If he is back to his best, Thistlecrack will be very difficult to beat.
Fox Norton finished runner-up in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in March. That looked his obvious target again this season until he was beaten at Sandown in the Tingle Creek. He ran on strongly to get within half a length of Politologue at the finish. Tizzard immediately expressed the view that it was time to back up in trip with the seven-year-old. He has won over two and a half miles at Aintree but the three miles here is unknown territory.
Disko won a Grade 2 chase in Ireland last month for Noel Meade. He was third to Yorkhill in the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham and he is yet to win at this distance.
King George VI Chase Betting Tips
Thistlecrack @13-2 Paddy Power
Each-way 1/5 odds, 1,2,3
The King George VI Chase is due off at 3.05 at Kempton Park on Tuesday 26th December and will be televised live on ITV.