The Willie Mullins-trained Tornado Flyer became the longest-priced winner in the history of the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton Park, England, on Sunday, as the 28/1 chance beat the previous 25/1 record starting price of French horse Nupsala in 1987.
Today’s victory was a second success in the race for Ireland’s champion jump trainers, who first won the race 20 years ago with Florida Pearl.
The win was an eight Irish-trained success in the Grade 1 three-mile chase, in the perennial post-Christmas racing highlight in England.
Ridden by the winning handler’s nephew, Danny, Tornado Flyer was delivered late in the home stretch, with his stable companion Asterion Forlonge looking his only serious danger.
When the grey French-bred Asterion Forlonge lost his rider Bryan Cooper at the final fence, Tornado Flyer and Mullins passed the wire comfortable nine length winners over the Paul Nicholls-trained former dual King George champion, Clan Des Obeaux, winner of the race in 2018 and 2019.
Another two runners from the Nicholls yard, Saint Calvados and Frodon, were third and fourth home respectively. The third place getter Saint Calvados was three and a half lengths behind the runner-up, while last season’s King George winner, the front-running Frodon, could only manage fourth place this time around, eight and half lengths further back.
Last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Minella Indo, disappointed in the race and was pulled up three fences from home. His jockey, last season’s Aintree Grand National-winning rider Rachael Blackmore, admitted to being disappointed with the Gold Cup winner’s effort, stating that he had been well beaten a long way from the finish.
Interestingly, the Henry De Bromhead-conditioned Minella Indo also disappointed last Christmas when falling in the Saville Chase at Leopardstown, Ireland, on that occasion, before going on to triumph at Cheltenham in March.
The King George favourite, Chantry House (3/1f) was pulled-up at the 12th fence by his rider Nico de Boinville. His trainer Nicky Henderson said post-race that the horse hated the ground.
On the Kempton Park undercard this afternoon, the JP McManus-owned Epatante became the eighth horse in history win the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle for the second time, giving her Irish owner an eighth victory in the Grade 1 contest.
It was a 10th victory in the two mile race for the successful handler Nicky Henderson as the 2020 Unibet Champion Hurdle winner had previously taken the Christmas Hurdle in 2019.
Ridden by Nico de Boinville, Epatante made amends for her 1/5f defeat in the race last year as she won by two and a quarter lengths from Tom Lacey’s Glory And Fortune, with the Jonjo O’Neill-handled Soaring Glory home in third place.
The first three home today will all likely be aimed at the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham next March when they will face the reigning champion, the unbeaten Honeysuckle, from the Henry De Bromhead barn in Ireland.
Photo: Tornado Flyer (@kemptonparkrace Photo)