King George VI Chase 2021 Ante Post Tips: Royale to reign at Kempton Park
We are less than two weeks away from the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, and our in-house tipster Steve Chambers takes a look at the latest betting and picks out his best ante-post tip for the showpiece event during the Christmas period...
Paul Nicholls has trained the winner of the King George VI Chase a staggering 12 times, and the Ditcheat handler will be bidding to win the Boxing Day feature for a mouth-watering fourth year in a row, and it will be the winners of the last three renewals that will spearhead his challenge. Clan Des Obeaux (2018 & 2019) and Frodon (2020) have been exceptional winners of the event in recent times and it's that duo dominating the latest betting, and both will certainly fall on many punters shortlists.
Clan Des Obeaux is the clear 11/4 favourite, at the time of writing, and he was last seen winning the Punchestown Gold Cup at the Punchestown Festival. Set for his seasonal reappearance in the end-of-season National Hunt highlight, Clan Des Obeaux has not had a prep run ahead of the 2021 King George, so while he has often shown his best form around the flat right-handed track of Kempton, he could be worth taking on at the current odds.
On the contrary, Frodon showed he still can sparkle at the highest level as he was a gutsy winner of the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal, and he relished the test of the King George last season. Available at 11/2, Frodon is sure to run a solid race, but it could be that this year's renewal is significantly tougher than last years, and while he's sure to be prominent through the first three quarters of the race, he may just find it tough to maintain his advantage late on.
There's not been an Irish-trained winner of the King George since 2005 (Kicking King), but there's set to be a real contender in this year's renewal in the shape of reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Minella Indo, who could take his chance for Henry De Bromhead. Hovering around the 9/2 mark, the star eight-year-old failed to kick off the season with a win, as he was well beaten by Frodon in the aforementioned Down Royal contest, but he's sure to come on for that outing, and has to come into calculations. But, while there's no doubting he's arguably the classiest stayer taking his chance, the speed of a King George could well find him out, and it could be that he's seen to more good use in the test of a Gold Cup rather than the speed test of a King George.
A more attractive betting proposition from an Irish perspective is Asterion Forlonge, who is a 10/1 chance for Willie Mullins and has to be a player if improving his jumping. He was travelling extremely sweetly when falling in the closing stages of the John Durkan, and if that hasn't left any lasting effect then he has to be a player here. There's no doubt he has his jumping frailties, but he's a class act, and has to be a prominent figure, if putting in a clear round.
Nicky Henderson trained Might Bite to victory in 2017, and the Seven Barrows handler will unleash last year's Marsh Novices' Chase hero Chantry House, who made a fine comeback when winning an intermediate chase at Sandown in November. Sitting around a fourth favourite, the JP McManus-owned star is obviously a class act, but this will be a whole new test for him taking on proven top-class chasers, and he may just find it all a bit too much.
There's one bigger priced contender that really catches the eye at this stage and that's the 16/1 chance ROYALE PAGAILLE, who will bid to hand Venetia Williams her second win in the King George. Having trained Teeton Mill to Kempton glory back in 1998, the top notch National Hunt handler, who has already claimed Ladbrokes Trophy glory this season with Cloudy Glen, can propel into the limelight once again with this progressive stayer.
A vast improver last season, he ended his winning run with a dominant victory in the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase before going on to finishing sixth in the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. Outclassed that day, he will find this much easier now dropping back to three miles, and he showed when winning at Kempton last season that he can produce the goods at the track. Lining up in a handicap chase last season at Kempton, Royale Pagaille eased to a three-and-a-quarter length victory over three miles, so a return to the same course and distance could see him figure here.
Available at 16/1 at the moment, Royale Pagaille will need to improve on his comeback run, where he was a 22-length second to A Plus Tard in the Betfair Chase, but he's sure to improve from that Haydock Park effort, and with a return to Kempton sure to be a huge positive then he could be the value play against the leading fancies taking their chance in an enthralling renewal.