There are eight runners due to face the starter in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day but, despite the prospect of a decent each-way bet, most racegoers and punters will only be concentrating on the first two in the betting.
Kauto Star has won already won the Grade 1 mid-season championship race four times, so why is he available at 7/2 with Betfred and totesport? He did, after all, beat favourite Long Run (a general 5/4) by eight lengths in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month when Diamond Harry was back in fourth. Not a bad performance considering the gelding is now rising 12 and has been jumping fences since he was a four-year-old. Kauto Star has won almost £2million in prize money in his career and it’s a credit to how shrewdly he’s been managed over the years that he is still towards the top of the chasing tree. However, as he’s got older he’s also become more difficult to predict. There were a lot of calls for him to be retired after he showed little interest and was pulled up at Punchestown in May, just weeks after he was firmly put in his place by Long Run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Even his trainer has admitted that he is probably just one poor run from being allowed to spend the rest of his days in a field but a possible fifth win in this prestigious chase is just too much of a temptation to resist, especially after his Haydock heroics.
Nicky Henderson admitted that Long Run wasn’t quite ready at Haydock but he’ll be tuned to the minute in his attempt to win the King George for a second time and, only a six-year-old, has plenty of scope for further improvement. I’d expect him to confirm last season’s dominance over Kauto Star and repeat last year’s triumph but it will be fascinating to see how Master Minded (13/2 in several places) and Captain Chris (8/1 with Ladbrokes) fare tackling 3m for the first time. Both are brilliant two-milers and the former won a Grade 1 contest over 2m4f at Aintree in the spring. His accurate jumping may be good enough to keep him in contention for a long way in this but there’s just a worry that with normal pace-setters Nacarat (66/1 with Paddy Power) and Golan Way (85/1 on betfair) likely to take each other on for the lead, the gallop may be suicidal and play to the strength of the proven stayers. That would suit Diamond Harry (a general 16/1) but not Somersby (a general 12/1) who finished behind Master Minded over 2m3f at Ascot last month and is another trying 3m for the first time.
- Long Run to win William Hill King George VI Chase at a general 5/4
- Diamond Harry to be placed at the general 16/1