Wednesday 26th December – Kempton – 3m 32Red King George VI Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)
The King George VI Chase which is open to horses aged four and over was established in 1937 and was named in honour of the new King. The race was only run twice before the Second World War and was not run during the war years as Kempton Park was used as a prisoner of war camp. It was re-established in 1947 when it was run for the first time on Boxing Day. The King George VI is only surpassed by the Cheltenham Gold Cup as the most prestigious chase on the calendar.
Fourteen horses have won the race more than once. Desert Orchid won the race four times but was surpassed by Kauto Star when he won for the fifth time in 2011.
Over the last 20 renewals the race has been won by six to eight year old horses on 15 occasions, with five of the last six winners coming from this age group.
The betting is very informative with nine favourites have obliged in the last 12 renewals and the other three winners could have been found in the first three in the betting.
Eight of the last 12 winners won on their last run before the King George and 11 of the last 12 winners having their previous run within 44 days of the race. Previous course form is a good pointer as eight of the last 12 winners had a previous won at Kempton and 10 of the last 12 winners had run at least once previously at the course.
Distance form is vital as all 12 winners had won at least once over distances between 2 miles 7 furlongs and 3 miles 1 furlong. Horses with reasonable chasing experience tend to do well with all 11 winners having run at least eight times over chase fences with 11 of the last 12 winners previously winning at least five times over the bigger obstacles.
An Official Rating of 172 of higher has been required to win the race in nine of the last 12 renewals and all of the last 12 winners had also previously won a Grade 1 race.
Paul Nicholls runs Black Corton and the seven year old brown gelding would appear to have plenty in his favour. The forecast ground of Good plays to his strengths as he has won seven times on the 10 occasions he has run in Good ground. He also has a good record over the race distance, winning four times in seven runs over the trip. Interestingly he does go well after a break. In fact since 2016 he has won on all of his starts after a break – a total five times. His trainer has also started the season really well and over the last 14 days he has saddled nine winners from 31 runners.
Current Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River finished second on his seasonal reappearance it Haydock in November and his owner Garth Broom considers that the nature of the course at Kempton will suit his horse. “Our tactics will suit Kempton, where you have to be near the pace,” Broom told the Racing Post. “Whether one or two might be that bit quicker on that track, where we haven’t got the nice uphill finish [as at Cheltenham] to help us, we’ll see. I think he’ll run his usual solid race and be thereabouts.”
The eight year old chestnut gelding (pictured, courtesy of Ian Yates) has plenty of winning experience over the race distance and in the forecast going, and has won at the highest level. In his only previous run at Kempton he finished third in the Kauto Star Novices Chase in 2015.
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