Charlie McCann gives his thoughts on the King George V1 Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day
Will it be Thistlecrack or Might Bite on Boxing Day?
Very sad to hear of the passing of leading owner Alan Potts last month and his Gold Cup winner Sizing John was a late defection from last month’s Betfair Chase at Haydock with trainer Jessica Harrington not prepared to allow her stable star to run on heavy ground first time out.
With no £1m bonus up for grabs I would be surprised if Sizing John lined up at Kempton Park on Boxing Day for the 32Red sponsored King George VI Chase and unless something dramatic happens at Haydock I make Nicky Henderson’s Might Bite (9/4 with BetVictor) something of a good thing following his impressive reappearance at Sandown.
The selection has had his quirks and critics in the past and veered badly across the track when nearly throwing away the RSA Chase at Cheltenham back in March, but he looked a reformed character at the Esher track although his winning time was nothing out of the ordinary.
The selection first came to prominence when falling at the last,with the race at his mercy, in the Grade 1 Kauto Star (formerly Feltham) Novices’ Chase at the corresponding race 12 months ago.
The ground at Kempton last year was no worse than good to soft and it should be noted that Nicky Henderson’s eight-yearold is unproven on heavy ground and confidence would be tempered if the heavens opened. Might Bite also jumped slightly out to his left at both Kempton and Sandown but his fencing was electric on his reappearance and he looks the one to beat.
Last year’s winner Thistlecrack (7/2 at BetVictor) hasn’t been seen on the track since going down by a nose to the ill-fated Many Clouds in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January. He is reported to be making his reappearance over timber at Newbury and if he impresses there must be a possibility that connections will decide to revert to timber full time.
Fox Norton (8/1 with BetVictor) – in the same colours as Sizing John and same stable as Thistlecrackhas won his last three but he has never run over 3m although he certainly wasn’t stopping when winning the 2m 4f Melling Chase at Aintree back in the spring.
Trainer Colin Tizzard hinted after Fox Norton’s successful reappearance at Cheltenham in the 2m Schloer Chase that he might take in the King George after the Tingle Creek and we now know there will be no £1m bonus for Sizing John to chase at Kempton.
It will be interesting to see if Willie Mullins steps Douvan up in trip for the contest. Douvan was report- ed to be under consideration for the John Durkan at Punchestown, where he might lock horns with Sizing John, and connections are also considering keeping the horse to the minimum trip with the Tingle Creek also in the mix especially following the news that Altior would miss the race.
As long as the ground is not bottomless at Kempton on Boxing Day I think Might Bite will be very hard to beat and he gets a confident vote.