The 2016 32Red King George VI Chase (26th December 15:15 Kempton) may well have turn into a match between stablemates Cue Card and Thistlecrack after just 7 horses were declared at the 5-day stage. However, the connections of Thistlecrack have to be applauded for throwing their 2016 World Hurdle winner into the cauldron of battle in his novice chase season after the late defection of Conegygree – and it promises to be an intriguing clash.
However, there are 5 other possible runners, so we better take a look at them all.
The reigning Champion amazingly won the King George at his fourth attempt and, to add his name to the role of honour who’ve won the race more than once, he must become only the 9th horse in the races 70-year-old history to win it at the age of 10 or older. However, the form of last year’s race had a particularly strong look to it, with Ryan Air Winner Vautour and Cheltenham Gold Cup Winner Don Cossack set to fight out the finish before the latter fell. He also looked back to that level of form when breezing home in the Betfair Chase from former Gold Cup winner Coneygree, and connections will be hoping to take this on-route to another crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The former jumping-snooker-table has looked a different horse this season, though he enjoyed an easy lead when winning the Peterbrough Chase, giving Tea For Two 1lb and a 6-length beating. Course figures of 2/2/1/1, but unlikely to get an easy lead, and has stamina to prove stepped-up to 3-miles for the first-time.
Road To Riches
Irish Raider who was third in the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup and third in 2016 Ryan Air Chase. 3-miles on good ground should be perfect for him, but likely to have competition for the lead, and has around 6-lengths to find with Cue Card on a line through the sadly departed Vautour.
Roi Des Francs
Trainer Gordon Elliott is having such a good season that he’s every right to have a crack at the King George, though I’m sure he wished it was with the side-lined Don Cossack rather than this fellow. Roi Des Francs could only finish sixth in novice chases at both Cheltenham and Aintree last season, and it’s hard to see him as a winner of this prestigious prize.
The 2013 and 2014 winner returns for another crack after being pulled-up in last year’s contest, but he was beaten 42-lengths by Cue Card at Haydock in November. May close the gap with his stable in better form, but his best days seem to be behind him.
Tea For Two
Last year’s Kauto Star Novice Chase winner is unbeaten in three runs at the track, and connections have made no secret that this is his main target of the season. He usually takes a couple of runs to reach his peak but, though he may get his revenge on Josses Hill, third-place is probably the best he can hope for if the big-guns complete.
The winner of his last 8 races, he was by far the best staying hurdler of his generation. However, it’s asking a lot for him to win this on just his fourth start over fences. Positives are that he has a mighty engine, has won plenty of times right-handed, and handles any ground, but the worry is whether his jumping will be polished enough in the heat of battle against horses with much more experience.
2016 32Red King George VI Chase Summary
The Clash between Cue Card and Thistlecrack could be mouth-watering, and it will be interesting to see if Thistlecrack’s jumping holds-up with a few prominent racers in the field. However, that looks sure to suit how Cue Card who has been ridden just off the pace in most of his recent victories, and he’s expected to add his name to the list of great horses who have won the King George more than once. However, it’s likely we’ll get a bigger price about him on Boxing Day.