Ed Quigley: My 1-2-3 For The King George VI Chase At Kempton

Chantry House is a leading contender for the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.
Chantry House is a leading contender for the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

Our regular columnist Ed Quigley turns his attentions to the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, and he provides his in-depth preview here and picks his 1-2-3 for the Kempton Christmas cracker...

It really is a Christmas feast of action, as some absolutely spellbinding contests are set to grace us over the next week or so. There is nowhere else to look to begin with other than Kempton Park Racecourse on December 26th in what should be a riveting renewal of the King George VI Chase.

Clan Des Obeaux heads the market as a general 11/4 chance, and the winner of this race in 2018 and 2019 will be looking to improve on his third placed finish in this contest 12 months ago. Paul Nicholls blamed a hard race in defeat in the Betfair Chase, prior to last year's race as having 'taken the edge off him' and so the Ditcheat maestro has brought him into this contest a fresh horse. Interesting, the overall reading of Clan Des Obeaux' CV suggests he does in fact come on for his seasonal reappearance, so they may just be a negative coming into this, for all that his genius handler will have no doubt mixed up the training regime to try and get him spot on for this.

Nicholls of course, has last year's winner and the evergreen Frodon geared up for another crack at this. An unconsidered 20/1 shot 12 months ago, he ran his rivals ragged under a peach-perfect ride from Bryony Frost. In my view, this is a deeper contest this time around, although he can never be written off arriving here on the back of a stellar performance at Down Royal in October. Saint Calvados is the third prong of the Nicholls attack. He ran well for a long way in this race last year (eventually finishing 3rd) despite being keen throughout. On his first start for the yard, It will be a training performance of the highest order if he can win off the back of a 323-day layoff, but last year's run at least offers hope.

Minella Indo is hard to assess; as Henry De Bromhead says: "this fella seems to grow another another leg when he arrives at Cheltenham." Clearly, the Sunbury venue differs greatly to the idiosyncrasies of Prestbury Park, and whether this stamina-laden individual can cope with the relative speed test this race presents is the reason why you can still get 3/1 about this year's Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. All in all, I am fence sitting with the eight-year-old; winning by five lengths or a well-beaten 4th I see as equally likely outcomes.

Dashel Drasher probably isn't an 80/1 shot on the balance of his form, but seems to come alive on deep ground which he is unlikely to get here. Lostintranslation comfortably saw off the Jeremy Scott representative at Ascot last time out by 16 lengths (in receipt of 6lb) and connections would have been delighted that the nine-year-old was showing a lot more of his old spark. Joe Tizzard has expressed how "he just wasn't right at any point last season", and things appear to have turned a corner after a wind operation. However, we have been here before with him, and considering he has been pulled-up both times he has been in this assignment, it makes me nervous to back him at single-figure odds.

The Willie Mullins pair of Tornado Flyer (not good enough) and Asterion Forlonge (plenty of class but you need to watch from behind the sofa) should he line up, as should the Nicky Henderson duo of Chantry House and Mister Fisher, who I think can both play a part in the finish here. The former goes into deeper waters here, seeking his fifth win in a row, but this year's Marsh Novices' Chase winner is totally unexposed and appears to be on an upward trajectory. In truth, I don't think we really know how good he is, but his 32 length thumping of Shan Blue at Aintree looks a fair performance, and I like the claims of the seven-year-old who I am sure we are yet to see the best of.

I drive my wife mad by playing my Muse and Nirvana albums on repeat 24/7, and I must have been driving readers off this column mad for about a year or so by constantly mentioning 'Mister Fisher, 3m, Kempton'  in the same sentence. Obviously I have tipped him for the Gold Cup, as I have discussed for a while now, I see his future over staying trips. It will probably be a bit of stretch to see him win this (belated first start of the season after an operation for a heart murmur), but I think the demands of this race will be tailor made for him, and he is no back-number as a 40/1 poke and is my each-way play.

King George Verdict:

  1. Chantry House
  2. Frodon
  3. Mister Fisher
King George VI Chase
Chantry House silk

Chantry House

Pulled Up
King George VI Chase Odds
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