After all the excitement of the flat racing season, the attention of horse racing fans is now turning to the jumps. In the UK, all roads of course lead to Cheltenham. Some good pointers as to who might be successful there next March will come on December 26. That’s when the King George VI Chase takes place at Kempton.
This is a three-mile chase with 18 fences to safely negotiate. Betting on this race that was first held in 1937 is always popular for those who still have some money left after Christmas Day. It’s not just in the UK and Ireland that gamblers will be hoping to pick the winner. Bettors in US such as New York will be heading to online sportsbooks to bet on this important race.
They will hope for better success than in 2021 when the outsider Tornado Flyer was the winner for trainer Willie Mullins. The Irish trainer had been waiting 20 years for another success to follow up the win of Florida Pearl in 2001. He might not have to wait so long for another win in the King George VI Chase.
Mullins trains Allaho who is at the top of the betting market. The eight-year-old has won the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in both 2021 and 2022. That race is run over a distance four furlongs less than this Kempton event.
However,Allaho has raced over three miles and last season ran on well to win the Punchestown Gold Cup. With the Cheltenham Gold Cup a target next year, he’ll make a bold bid to win the King George VI Chase.
The win for Tornado Flyer in 2021 ended a run of three straight wins for trainer Paul Nicholls. If anyone knows how to prepare a horse to win this race, it’s Nicholls. His first King George VI Chase win came in 1997. If he can train the winner in 2022, it’ll be his 13th success in the race.
His main contender this year is the seven-year-old Bravemans Game. Course and distance experience is always handy and on Boxing Day 2021, this contender won the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase. That must have been an emotional moment for Nicholls as he trained Kauto Star to five King George VI Chase wins.
Not since 2003 has a woman trained the winner of the King George VI Chase. 20 years on, Venetia Williams will be hoping to repeat the feat of Henrietta Knight. Williams trains L’Homme Presse who won the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham earlier this year, a fifth straight win.If the ground is soft at Kempton, then this runner has good each-way claims.
Galopin Des Champs is another from the Willie Mullins yard. He’s only six years old and the last time a horse of that age won this race was in 2018. This year saw gamblers in shock as he went clear in the Golden Miller Chase at the Cheltenham Festival only to fall at the last. Galopin Des Champs won next time out but was again less than fluent going over the last fence. With more experience this runner has each-way chances but punters will be nervous as he approaches the last after what happened at Cheltenham. It all makes for a fascinating race though for gamblers on both sides of the Atlantic.
JTW Equine Images, Past The Wire