One of the biggest races of the jumps season will be staged on Boxing Day at Kempton Park. The G1 King George VI Chase is the second most prestigious jumps race in the world, with only the Cheltenham Gold Cup being held in higher regard.
Racing fans could be treated to one of the most star-studded renewals of the race this year, with no shortage of leading contenders looking to win the $200,000 winner purse.
History & Records
The King George VI Chase has been a staple of British sport on Boxing Day since it was staged on the day after Christmas for the first time in 1947. The first renewal of the King George was held in February 1937, and some of the most talented horses throughout history have landed success.
Kauto Star is the most successful winner, landing victory in five successive years between 2006 and 2011. Furthermore, 15 horses have won the race on multiple occasions, with Paul Nicholls training the winner in 13 editions.
Willie Mullins very rarely sends runners over to Kempton on Boxing Day, landing victories on just two occasions in the King George since 2000. However, the Grade 1 appears to have been the target for Allaho since the start of last season. But, those plans were put on hold following a season-ending injury in 2022-23.
The nine-year-old returned to the track with a stunning nine-length demolition of Janidil at Clonmel in November, marking his first start for over 560 days. The two-time Ryanair Chase winner has already landed victory over three miles after scoring in the G1 Punchestown Gold Cup in April 2022. He’ll hold very strong claims if at his very best.
Paul Nicholls has dominated the King George throughout recent history, and last year’s winner will be back to defend his crown at Kempton. Bravemansgame was sensational in the race 12 months ago, taking the lead coming over the final fence following L’Homme Presse’s fall. However, that win remains his most recent success, as he was well beaten in the Cheltenham Gold Cup by Galopin Des Champs. That hard race at the Festival appears to have left a mark, as the eight-year-old is winless in two starts this season.
The most recent of his defeats saw him beaten by over six lengths by reappearing rival Royale Pagaille. He has something to find on Boxing Day, but Kempton is a track that definitely suits this contender.
The ace in the pack could come in the form of Gerri Colombe for dominant Irish trainer Gordon Elliott. The seven-year-old has already emerged as one of the leading contenders for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, and connections have kept the talented runner in the line-up at this late stage.
Gerri Colombe was agonizingly beaten at the Festival in March, finishing a short head behind The Real Whacker in the G1 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase. However, that remains his only defeat in six starts over fences. He was incredibly impressive on his return to action in November, beating race-fit Grade 1 opposition in the Champion Chase.
King George VI Chase Prediction
This is a vintage renewal of the King George Chase, with no shortage of chances in the betting. Shishkin remains an incredibly talented contender for Nicky Henderson, while Royale Pagaille was sensational when beating Bravemansgame for red-hot Venetia Williams.
However, the horse overlooked by many could be The Real Whacker. Kempton will suit his bold front-running style, and he is one of the soundest jumpers in this field. He potentially boasts the most progressive form line in this race after beating Gerri Colombe in the G1 Brown Advisory in March, and it could be worth siding with the seven-year-old at Kempton.
- Pick: The Real Whacker (Bet this at BetDSI)