10 Superstars go to Post for the King George on Boxing Day
The King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day is always the feature of the festive period as far as horse racing fans go, and this year will certainly be no different. We have ten going to post for the big one on Boxing Day, and it is almost impossible to rule any of them out in what looks to be a fantastic and wide open renewal of the race.
Back in November we had a fantastic Betfair Chase up at Haydock, with five top quality runners going head to head. The same five horses all re-oppose again here, alongi with another five to give us an even bigger field and even more quality in the line up. We are not looking at a race with one or two star names to get the blood pumping, this is a serious horse race with plenty of runners in with a chance of taking the prize home, so sit back and enjoy this one because it is going to be special.
The Betfair Chase Form
The five runners from the Betfair Chase seems the obvious place to start, and the winner on that day was Bristol De Mai. Those who are against the horse will show you his fantastic record at Haydock compared to anywhere else and say he runs far better at that course than anywhere else. If that is true, which I am inclined to agree with, then he won’t be winning on Boxing Day, but based on form this season, he has the best case. Native River was in behind him in second place, and he probably needs more of a test that what we have here to be seen at his very best. His time will come in the Gold Cup, where we have another couple of furlongs and an uphill finish, both of which play into his strengths.
You could argue the horse to take out of the Betfair Chase was the third placed Thistlecrack. Not only was he coming back from a long absence in the race, but had he jumped with any kind of fluency at all and not lost the lengths he did then there is no doubt he would have won. It was highly impressive from him to get so close despite the jumping errors he made, and if he can have a clear round then he has to have a huge chance here. The feeling is he may not though, and if he was mine I’d be looking at the weak staying hurdling division and aiming my horse at the stayers hurdle in March to win one last grade one with him before retirement.
Clan Des Obeaux was fourth in the Betfair Chase and this youngster ran a good race first time back this season. He is young and improving, and if he has found anything since that run then he too has to enter calculations here, although he will need to improve from that and also show a career best to get his head in front.
The final horse from that race is Might Bite, who finished last of the five runners at Haydock but is likely to be sent off the favourite on Boxing Day. The stiff fences and failing to get into a rhythm were the excuses given for his disappointment at Haydock, and there is a little pressure on him to bounce back here. He finished second in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in a race that suits his rival Native River, but as far as the King George goes, this race certainly suits Might Bite more out of those two.
Best of the Rest
Those five are not the only horses to consider on Boxing Day. Politologue is stepping up in distance here after a nice win over shorter at Ascot and he is a big danger if he sees out the trip as expected. His high cruising speed should take him into the race nicely, and if he can stay up the run in then he will surely be in with a big shout.
Coneygree, Double Shuffle and Tea For Two know their way around a staying chase, and they are very experienced horses. However, if one of those three wins this race then it will be likely due to some of the other contenders not giving their true performances.
That leaves just one horse to talk about, the tenth and final contender and the one I fancy to win the race, and that is Waiting Patiently.
A success for him here would propel the horse and his young trainer Ruth Jefferson into the limelight, but it would be no more than they deserve. The horse is quite aptly named as he struggles to handle a lot of racing and has ran just three times on each of his last two seasons. He has won all six of those races over fences though, and last time we saw him he was kicking clear of Cue Card in a Grade One at Ascot over 2m5f.
The step up to three miles is going to suit him, and should bring out even more improvement from him, he is a seriously talented horse with one hell of an engine. I have been a big fan of the Jefferson yard, and when Malcom passed away and handed the reins over to Ruth I have been wanting them to have a big winner. This is one that is on one of the biggest possible stages in jump racing, and one that would put Ruth on the map for certain.
The race should be an absolute classic so make sure you are watching on Boxing Day if at all possible. I am hoping that the patience shown by the Jefferson team with their horse Waiting Patiently will be rewarded when they lift the King George trophy next week.