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King George VI Chase betting

December 26th, 2013

King George VI Chase

Kempton’s Boxing Day showpiece, the King George VI Chase, is also the most prestigious race run during the first half of the jumps season and it has a roll of honour to match any in this great sport.

Whilst there may not be a horse in this year’s line up to match the extraordinary Festive feats of the likes of Desert Orchid and Kauto Star, there are four very exciting young chasers at the head of the market with bookmakers finding it hard to choose between the quartet.

In fact, early this morning William Hill went 4/1 each of four to emphasise how hard it is to choose between the chief protagonists, and the underfoot conditions could play a key part in determining the outcome.

Despite the atrocious recent weather, the ground is only soft at the moment and conditions are drying out all the time, which is a big plus for both Cue Card and Al Ferof.  

Al Ferof has questions to answer over this trip, as he is yet to race beyond 2m 5f, but he has plenty of stamina on his sire’s side and he won a point to point over 3 miles as a four year old. An improvement in underfoot conditions would obviously aid his chances of seeing out the extra distance here and his Paddy Power success last season is arguably one of the best pieces of form on offer as he carried the welter burden of 11st 8lbs to victory.  

Injury robbed him of a crack at this race last season, but his comeback win at Ascot last month was really encouraging and he is the least exposed of these over fences. Victory here would surely see him head the market for the big one in March.

The most significant recent form line is the Betfair Chase at Haydock, which was staged on the same day as Al Ferof’s comeback at Ascot. Cue Card took the spoils that afternoon with Dynaste second, Silviniaco Conti third and Long Run fourth.

Cue Card proved he stays 3 miles that day, and he showed a combination of speed and stamina that should be well suited to this contest. He jumped beautifully too and he is a very difficult horse to get past once he gets into a rhythm.

His yard had been under something of a cloud recently, and he had a fitness advantage over a couple of the horses he beat at Haydock who renew their rivalry here, but his record is impeccable and last season’s flop in this race can easily be dismissed as he made a couple of terrible blunders early on.

Dynaste travelled like the winner for much of the Betfair, but couldn’t get by the winner when push came to shove. Like Cue Card, he impressed with his jumping and one of his best ever performances came here in last season’s Feltham. The ground was heavy that day and so his connections would prefer to see conditions remain as they currently are and if they do then the horse would have a big chance of reversing the Haydock form with a run under his belt.

Silviniaco Conti’s trainer, Paul Nicholls, has also said that the softer the ground the better for his charge and he also thinks the horse will strip a lot fitter here than he did on his seasonal re-appearance in the Betfair. Connections seem quite bullish about his chances, and this course should play to his strengths, but he has to reverse form with not one but two horses from Haydock, which won’t be easy.

Dual winner of this race, Long Run, has plenty to prove after two disappointing efforts so far this campaign. His connections are trying some new headgear here, but you would have to think that the ground would need to deteriorate markedly for the horse to have a chance of securing a famous hat-trick.

One of the horses that gave him most to do last season was Champion Court and Martin Keighley’s eight year old looks to try again this year. Any improvement in the ground would aid his chances as he didn’t appear to see out the trip 12 months ago, but his overall profile suggests he may just fall short of this level.

However, there is a chance that an outsider could make the frame at a big price and the two of most interest are Riverside Theatre and Menorah.

Riverside Theatre, who is becoming an increasingly tricky ride, flopped in this race last season. Prior to that, though, he had split Long Run and Kauto Star when finishing second in 2010/11 and his win over Champion Court in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon recently does at least suggest that he retains most of his ability.  

Some of Menorah’s form also gives him a squeak (he finished in front of Silviniaco Conti at Aintree in the spring and then was beaten only ¾l by Champion Court at Cheltenham, giving that rival a 17lbs) and he is 3 from 3 at Kempton. If he can handle the ground, and is produced late, he could make the frame.

Irish raider, Mount Benbulen, will love the ground, but his jumping often leaves a lot to be desired and he has yet to prove he can mix it at this level.

Dynaste (win) 3.10 Kempton 4/1 
Menorah (ew) 3.10 Kempton 
22/1 Bet365

Rest of Kempton’s Card

The other two big races on Kempton’s card are the Christmas Hurdle and the Feltham Novices’ Chase. With small fields and short priced runners in both, you are not likely to get rich backing anything in either contest.

In the Feltham, Just A Par looks the clear form pick, but Paul Nicholls is quoted as saying after his last success that he didn’t see him as a Feltham type, which is a concern. A better option may, therefore, be course winner and first time blinked Annacotty, each way.

The Christmas Hurdle, meanwhile, looks a match between My Tent Or Yours (win) and The New One, both of whom are at the head of the market for this season’s Champion Hurdle, although Grumeti isn’t far of top class and should keep the principals honest. Our preference is for the former as he may be suited by the small field and flat track. AP McCoy should be able to stalk his rivals and pounce late.

McCoy could have a decent day, with Champagne At Tara (ew) likely to give him a good ride in the opener, whilst Nicky Henderson has a fine record in the closing contest so Master Of The Game (ew) has to be respected.

Annacotty (ew) 2.00 Kempton 16/1
My Tent Or Yours (win) 2.35 Kempton 6/5  
Champagne At Tara (ew) 12.50 Kempton 5/1 William Hill
Master Of The Game (ew) 5.45 Kempton 11/1  
Stan James

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