You can stick your paper hats, cheesy jokes, and cheap gifts this Christmas – because the only Christmas cracker I’m interested in this Christmas is the King George Chase on Boxing Day.
The 2018 King George Chase could be one of the most competitive renewals in recent seasons, with the present champion, a past champion, some old favourites, and a variety of young pretenders to the crown all set do battle at Kempton.
Check out our King George Chase 2018 runner-by-runner guide and our King George Chase 2018 Free Tip.
It’s no surprise the 2017 King George Chase winner is the favourite for the 2018 King George. Might Bite would have also been a spectacular winner of the 2016 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton but for a last fence fall, whilst jockey Nico de Boinville did just enough on him last year on unsuitably soft ground to see off Double Shuffle and Tea For Two. He’d probably be even shorter in the market but for finishing last in the Betfair Chase, where the big fences were offered as an excuse for his flop. Has a favourites chance, and the quicker the ground the better his chances will be.
Connections have certainly been waiting patiently as this unbeaten chaser has yet to run this season. It’s not often you see a chaser un in the King George Chase, but trainer Ruth Jefferson says that won’t be an excuse as her seven-year-old has been doing everything right at home.
Waiting Patiently won his first Grade 1 chase at Ascot in February and created a massive impression there as he travelled with ease behind the aggressively ridden Cue Card as everything else floundered due to the searching gallop. Does have stamina to prove stepped up to three-miles for the first time but has the potential to be even better at this new trip. Set to be ridden as usual by Brian Hughes.
Last season’s Tingle Creek Chase winner is another horse yet to prove his stamina for three miles, but he impressed with the way he travelled when beating subsequent Peterborough chase winner Charbel at Ascot. He’s also two from two at Kempton over fences, and looks sure to come in for support as he’s a grey horse like subsequent popular King George winners Desert Orchid and One Man. His trainer Paul Nicholls also knows what it takes to win this race as he’s won nine of the last 21 renewals. The mount of Sam Twiston-Davies.
Bristol De Mai
If the King George Chase was run at Haydock, dual Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai would probably be favourite. However, so far in his career he has saved his best performances for Haydock and has yet to post a performance elsewhere that suggests he’ll win this. He was also only sixth last year after winning the Betfair Chase and it will be interesting to see whether regular Daryl Jacob can get a better performance from this year after undergoing wind surgery in the summer.
The 2016 King George winner tried and failed to defend his crown last year but it’s fair to say he wasn’t in good form coming into the race. He wasn’t disgraced in fourth, but he did finish behind both Double Shuffle and Tea For Two, who are the outsiders of the field this year. However, trainer Colin Tizzard says Thistlecrack is in much better form this year and can be expected to improve on his comeback run in the Betfair Chase, where he finished behind Bristol De Mai and stablemate Native River.
Last year’s Cheltenham Gold cup winner put up his usually game performance in this season’s Betfair Chase and he wasn’t disgraced considering the ground was quicker than he liked and the track speedier than he would prefer. However, he could face a similar scenario here. It’s also worrying that he completely lost his rhythm in the 2015 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, where he finished behind Tea For two, even if he has improved since.
Clan Des Obeaux
Another young pretender from the Paul Nicholl yard who could improve this season. However, Clan Des Obeaux needs to improve on all known form as he was behind Bristol De Mai, Native River, and Thistlecrack in this season’s Betfair Chase and has generally come up short in this sort of company. The mount of Harry Cobden.
Edredon Bleu and Kauto Star have both won the King George at the age of 11 this century and the lightly-raced former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner shouldn’t be written off despite his big odds. He certainly has the back-class to win if back to anything like his best and he ran a cracking race off top-weight in a handicap on his seasonal debut after a long spell on the side-lines. He also won the 2014 Kauto Star Novices’Chas eover course and distance in stunning style. He’s hard to keep sound but, if connections are happy on the day, expect Coneygree to outrun his odds. The mount of Sean Bowen.
Likeable horse from the yard of Tom George who has run well at Kempton numerous times, including when runner-up in the race last year. Not in great form so far this season though and will do well to match last year’s exploits in what looks a much stronger field. The mount of JJ Burke.
Tea For Two
Won on his first three visits to Kempton including the 2015 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and has also won a Grade 1 at Aintree. However, he was only fourth of five runners in 2016 and third last year in two easier looking renewals. Would be a shock winner, but a bold show is not beyond possibility after being noted running on into third in the Peterborough Chase. The Mount Of Lizzie Kelly.
King George Chase 2018 Free Tip
If all 10 entries go to post for the 2018 King George Chase, it should be one of the best renewals in recent years. There should be no hiding place either as Might Bite, Native River, Coneygree, and Bristol De Mai all like to race prominently. Out of that quartet, it’s Might Bite and Coneygree that have shown a liking for the course, whilst Native River and Bristol De Mai seemed to lose their rhythm on their previous runs here.
Because of the likelihood of a strong pace, I also think it will be difficult for the likes of Clan Des Obeaux, Tea For Two, and Double Shuffle as they have plenty to find on the book. Meantime, Thistlecrack didn’t quite show enough at Haydock to suggest he’s right back to his best. That leaves the smooth-travelling pair of Politologue and Waiting Patiently, with the latter fancied to prove better at three-miles than the former.
So, I’m going to take a chance that Waiting Patiently travels smoothly behind a strong pace and has the stamina to use his potent turn of foot to good effect over the last. Meantime, I also can’t resist a bet on old boy Coneygree who may have one last big run in him around a course where he excelled in winning the 2014 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.
2 Points win @ 6.00 Bet365, WilliamHill, Betway
1 Point (Each-Way) @ PaddyPower, Betfred, BlackType
Odds Correct at Time of Publication