The 2019 King George Chase VI Chase (Boxing Day) could be a race to savour and, though it’s nine months away, it’s definitely worth taking an early look at a potential line-up that should have any jumps racing fan positively drooling.
It’s a line-up that could include dual champion chaser Altior, the reigning King George hero Clan Des Obeaux, rising star Cyrname, and this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo. Ryanair Chase winner Frodon could also help Bryony Frost become the lady rider to win this prestigious chase, whilst Defi De Seuil and La Bague Au Roi bring top novice-form to the table.
King George VI Chase Trends
Four horses aged six have won the King George VI Chase this century, with that quartet comprising Kicking King, Kauto Star, Long Run, and Clan Des Obeaux.
Seven-year-olds have been responsible for six winners, the most by any age group. Those winners were First Gold, Best Mate, Kicking King, Kauto Star, Long Run and Siviniaco Conti.
Might Bite, Thistlecrack, Silviniaco Conti, and Kauto Star won the race as eight-year-olds, whilst Florida Pearl, Kauto Star, and Cue Card won as nine-year-olds. The only two horses to have won aged older than nine were Kauto Star and Edredon Bleu.
Favourites have a great record in the race, with 11 of the last 18 favourites winning. However, many of those races were dominated by a horse that stood head and shoulders above their rivals.
Perhaps the most interesting statistic is the dominance of trainer Paul Nicholls over the last 13 years as he’s won the King George eight times in that period. Indeed, only three trainers have lifted the trophy in that time, with Nicky Henderson saddling three of the last nine winners and Colin Tizzard two of the last three winners.
King George VI Chase 2019 Main Contenders
It’s fascinating to think that a horse that has dominated over two-miles in an unbeaten career over hurdles and fences could actually be better over three-miles. However, none of the three winning nine-year-olds this century was running in the King George for the first time. Florida Pearl had been beaten by First Gold the previous year, whilst Cue Card had been beaten by Siviniaco Conti two-years earlier, and Kauto Star was winning the race for the fourth time. Henderson’s three winners were also all younger than nine.
Despite continuing his winning run this season, Altior’s form also doesn’t look quite as good as it did at the time. He looked sensational beating Un Des Sceaux first time up, but that horse ran disappointingly at Cheltenham. The form of his win in the Champion Chase, when he defeated Politologue by just one and three quarters of a length, also suggests he did not run up to his best.
Clan Des Obeaux
The 2018 King George VI Chase winner was slightly disappointing when fifth in the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup, but the soft ground and left-handed undulating track probably didn’t play to his strengths. He should be much better suited returned to the right-handed flat track at Kempton and, as Kauto Star won five King Georges and Silviniaco Conti two, Nicholls does have a great habit of producing horses that win more than one King George.
It’s amazing how some horse just suddenly mature and become top-class and that certainly appears to be the case with Cyrname, if the form of his last two runs can be believed.
A 21-lengths win carrying top-weight in a handicap off a mark of 150 was believed to be a bit of a fluke but he proved the doubters wrong in scintillating style when routing some decent rivals in the Ascot Chase. Finishing 17-lengths clear of the potentially very smart Waiting Patiently marks him down as very special, but it’s perhaps the third and fourth horses that give the form real substance. Third home was Fox Norton who had beaten Un Des Sceaux when at his peak two-years ago, whilst Politologue was beaten over 20-lengths. That was much further than Politologue was beaten by Altior in the Champion Chase and further than he was beaten by Clan Des Obeaux when a blatant non-stayer in the King George.
Defi De Seuil
The JLT winner was a high-class winner of the 2017 Triumph Hurdle and he could emulate another former winner of that race Tiger Roll by winning over three-miles plus. However, it’s worth remembering that Lostintranslation outstayed him over a trip slightly longer than the 2½ mile JLT earlier in the season.
Al Boum Photo
Travelled like a dream to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and this quickly improving seven-year-old would be a massive danger to all if crossing the Irish Sea for this race. However, despite Willie Mullins having saddled Florida Pearl to win in 2001, he’s not had too many runners since then.
Already proven that he stays thee-miles and could be aimed at all the top three-mile races next season after winning the Ryanair Chase. However, despite winning on more than one occasion going right-handed, there’s a suspicion that he might be better going left-handed.
La Bague Au Roi
Seemed to bottle it at the top-table over hurdles but Warren Greatrex’s exciting eight-year-old mare looks to be potentially the best novice chaser of this season. She’s already beaten the likes of Lostintranslation, and beat Topofthegame and Santini in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase over the course and distance of the King George.
King George VI Chase Verdict
We can only hope all the principles line up come December, as a clash between last season’s top novices, the Gold Cup Winner, the reigning King George winner, and Altior would be amazing.
However, I can’t help but think that Cyrname will spoil the party for all of them. On a line through Politologue (also trained by Paul Nicholls), his breath-taking win in the Ascot Chase suggests he’s the best horse by a few lengths.