The Festive season is upon us and that can only mean one thing…top quality horse racing galore. Leopardstown, Chepstow and Kempton all host blue riband races, but there is no doubt that the King George Chase at Kempton is the pièce de résistance. Our racing analyst Dave Stevos is looking to bounce back after a poor showing last weekend and you can check out his King George VI Chase preview below…
King George Chase Preview: Might Bite
Three miles at Kempton should be ideal for Might Bite, a horse that possesses a solid turn of foot. The flat track is suited to speedier types and Might Bite won this last year, holding off the brave challenge of Double Shuffle by a length. Soft ground scuppered his chances in the Gold Cup last March, but he still finished a gallant second to Native River.
However, Might Bite produced a very worrying display on his seasonal comeback. He trailed in last of five and never looked his usual self throughout the race. Okay, Nicky Henderson’s string weren’t firing on all cylinders at that time. Even so, the way he dropped out makes it hard to have maximum faith in him here. At odds of 10/3 we think he is too short and better value can be found elsewhere.
King George Chase Preview: Waiting Patiently
Waiting Patiently is the young pretender here and he is rated 170, just 2lb less than the favourite. Ruth Jefferson’s charge has yet to put a foot wrong since going chasing. He boasts a 100% record over fences and he scored in a Grade 1 at Ascot last time (21f sft). He has already beaten Politologue over 20f and he won a Listed chase at this track in January.
The only unknown for Waiting Patiently is whether he will be as effective at 3 miles. The furthest he has gone so far is 21f and he has to prove his stamina for the King George trip. It is far from a given that he will stay as the majority of his dam’s siblings were best at up to 20f. If he gets the trip he will be a massive danger to all and odds of 5/1 look just about right.
King George Chase Preview: Politologue
Paul Nicholls is no stranger to success in this race, winning it a record nine times. He will be hoping to make it a perfect ten with Politologue. Just like Waiting Patiently, this son of Poliglote’s best form has come over shorter. This will be his first try at beyond 21.5f and on the evidence of his last run he is well worth trying over 3 miles.
He stayed on well to repel the late challenge of Charbel at Ascot (21f gd/sft). However, this will be a much tougher assignment for him and his regular partner Sam Twiston Davies. His pedigree suggests that stamina shouldn’t be an issue as his dam’s half brother won over 3m 4f in France. If he does stay he could make the shake up at odds of 11/2.
King George Chase Preview: Thistlecrack
Thistlecrack’s last victory came in this contest back in 2016 when he beat Cue Card by 3L. A defeat to Many Clouds followed and injury kept him out for almost a year. His three runs last season left more questions than answers but he did show encouraging signs behind Bristol De Mai at Haydock last time out.
This 10yo son of Kayf Tara could yet hit the heights his potential once suggested he might. However, staying chasers can often find it difficult to come back from injuries and the suspicion lingers that Thistlecrack’s best days could be behind him. He will undoubtedly have his supporters at odds of 7/1 but for us, he is best watched.
King George Chase Preview: Bristol De Mai
This dashing grey son of Saddler Maker put manners on his opponents last time at Haydock. It was thought that this fella needed bottomless ground to be seen at his best. However, he left Native River, Thistlecrack, Clan Des Obeaux and Might Bite trailing in his wake on good ground in the Betfair Chase, dispelling any doubts about his ability to handle nice ground.
It is true that he has produced by far his finest form at Haydock, but it is important to remember that he is still a relatively young horse at just 7yo. He flopped in this last season but his trainer reported that he wasn’t himself. He had two runs behind him then, whereas this time he has only one. That could make a big difference and of the market leaders he looks the value at odds of 15/2.
King George Chase Preview: Native River
Colin Tizzard fires two bullets at this race and the more fancied of the pair is Native River. Last season’s Gold Cup hero is the highest rated horse in the race with a mark of 176. He made a very satisfactory return to action behind Bristol De Mai at Haydock over 3 miles. He was outpaced but then kept on well for the runner up spot, 4L behind the winner.
Whether a sharp 3 miles at a track like Kempton will suit this doughty stayer is the big question mark. His only start over this course and distance ended in defeat back in 2015 (beaten 8L by Tea For Two). There is no doubt he has the class to figure, but Kempton may not play to his strengths. Whatever he does here, his main aim will be retaining his Gold Cup crown at Cheltenham. 6/1 looks a fair price and he has each way claims.
King George Chase Preview: Clan Des Obeaux
Politologue looks to be Paul Nicholls best chance of a winner in this year’s King George. However, it would be folly to totally discount Clan Des Obeaux. This 6yo son of Kapgarde has run respectably in Grade 1 company on his last two starts. He was a big eyecatcher last time at Haydock too behind Bristol De Mai.
He travelled into the race very well and looked like he might challenge, but his effort petered out. If he needed the race for fitness it was a fine effort, and he ought to improve for the run. He has won on his second start back the past two seasons. His rating of 160 leaves him with a fair bit to find with the principals, but his trainer has a wonderful record in this race and he could outrun his odds of 16/1.
King George Chase Preview: Double Shuffle
The one horse in this race that looks criminally overpriced is Double Shuffle. This fella produced the best run of his career in this last season. He pushed Might Bite all the way, finishing second at odds of 50/1. His next two runs at Aintree and Sandown were poor, and he fell at the first on his seasonal comeback.
It was much more like it at Aintree last time on ground plenty soft enough for him. He was only 4.5L behind classy chaser Definitly Red and he should come on plenty for that outing. He loves it at Kempton (form figures of 122) and unlike a lot of his rivals, this is likely his main aim this season. 40/1 looks absolutely massive and at those odds he looks well worth chancing each way.
King George Chase Preview: Coneygree
Mark Bradstock’s former Gold Cup winner showed he still retained a lot of ability last time. He ran an absolute cracker under a welter burden at Cheltenham, jumping and travelling well. Coneygree was beaten 6L at the finish but he kept on bravely to hold third and he should strip much fitter now with that behind him.
However, he has had a lot of injury issues in the past couple of years and he has been pulled up on two of his last three starts. It would take a monumental performance for him to overturn some of his younger rivals. His odds of 33/1 look just about right and connections would be delighted if he could sneak a place.
King George Chase Preview: Tea For Two
This 9yo son of Kayf Tara has failed to produce his best for quite a while. However, the return to this track offers hope he can come back to something like his best. His last win came in the Betway Bowl at Aintree (26f gd) while his best recent run came in last year’s renewal of this race.
Tea For Two came home in third, 3L behind Might Bite and 2L behind Double Shuffle. He was beaten around the same distance by Thistlecrack here in 2016, so he evidently is suited by this track. He wasn’t disgraced by Charbel over an inadequate trip at Huntingdon last time (20f). That run should have put him spot on for this and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if he outran his odds of 50/1.
King George Chase Preview: The Verdict
This looks like being one of the most open King George VI Chases for some time. If Might Bite hadn’t bombed out last time he would likely be a lot shorter than 3/1. He did though, and that tame effort has to be a worry for his supporters. Waiting Patiently and Politologue need to prove their stamina for the trip, while it could be too sharp a test for Native River. At the current odds Bristol De Mai appeals most of the market leaders.
We think that it is dangerous to discount three of the big outsiders. Tea For Two shaped well on his seasonal return and has been close up in the last two renewals. 50/1 about him is too big. Clan Des Obeaux was a big eyecatcher last time and he could go well at 16s. Both could be worth having a small each way interest on.
However, the most overpriced horse in this contest is Double Shuffle. He has yet to finish out of the first two at Kempton and he only has a length to find with Might Bite on last year’s run. The nicer ground could see him go even better in this year’s King George VI Chase and at odds of 40/1 he is the each way pick.
TXODDS’ KING GEORGE VI CHASE TIP: DOUBLE SHUFFLE E/W @ 40/1