Menorah To Nick Silvianaco To King George
Forget the turkey, Boxing Day’s King George VI Chase from Kempton (3.10) is what it’s all about – a race in which Silviniaco Conti (9/4) will bid to become the third back-to-back winner of the race during the last 10 years.
Both Kauto Star and Kicking King managed to defend their titles, and Paul Nicholls’ 8yo has to be given every chance of following in their footsteps having won the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock a month ago. His 2l defeat of Menorah (7/1) was achieved with a stamp of authority on favoured soft ground that day, counting against the runner-up.
It will be interesting to see who comes out on top at Kempton, as Menorah beat Silviniaco Conti around 8l on the pair’s reappearance at Wetherby in November (3m1f, good), especially as the forecast drying ground could be in Menorah’s favour.
Nicholls also has Al Ferof (6/1), who arrives in terrific form having won a Grade 2 at Ascot last month, although he did win the same race last season before being beaten 14l in the King George. The overall feeling is that Al Ferof is better over shorter, but he is a 3m points winner trained by Nicholls, who has such a good record in this…
Of the last 10 King George winners…
10 returned 6/1 or shorter – others were 0-70; favourites struck at 7-9
10 won a Grade 1 chase – others were 0-43
10 won 40% or more of their career chases
9 were either officially rated 172 or more, or had no rating (Irish-trained)
9 arrived via a Grade 1 race
9 won during their last three runs
7 arrived via Haydock last time
P Nicholls won it six times, N Henderson twice
David Pipe’s, Dynaste (8/1) was also well held in last year’s King George (47l fifth), but won over the same C&D on this card in 2012 (heavy). He handles conditions and showed his class in winning the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in March (2m5f, good), though Silviniaco Conti did beat him without any excuses during his last two outings.
This is no “gimme” for the Brits, though, as Willie Mullins sends over Champagne Fever (7/2).
A Grade 1 winning hurdler, this 7yo went close to winning at the highest level when an agonizing runner-up in the Arkle at Cheltenham last March (2m, good to soft). He soon regained the winning touch first time up this season in scooping a Grade 2 at Cloneml (2m4f, heavy), and while he has yet to try 3m, Mullins is keen to step his improver up, and thinks his jumping will get better – it will need to over a speedy 3m on decent ground.
This will be Cue Card’s (6/1) third consecutive appearance in the King George, and almost won it last year when pushing Silviniaco Conti to within 4l. He was again beaten by the same horse – this time by 12l – in the Betfair Chase last time, and it remains to be seen what form he is in. He may go well, but doesn’t appeal as the winner.
Another top-class renewal on the Boxing Day menu, but one in which Menorah may find conditions (drying ground) more in his favour than the others. His yard remains in top form and 7/1 is a good each-way price.