Andy New­ton high­lights the vi­tal sta­tis­tics to help place your bet for the big Christ­mas race at Kemp­ton

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

Trends to fol­low in the King Ge­orge at Kemp­ton

Wow, so that’s pretty much it for an­other year as we head into De­cem­ber and wave good­bye to 2018! How­ever, be­fore we of­fi­cially step foot into a New Year, we’ve still got one of the jump­ing high­lights on the cal­en­dar to deal with - the King Ge­orge VI Chase on Box­ing Day – a race that sea­soned racegoers and the more recre­ational pun­ters take the book­ies on to try and get their Christ­mas ex­penses paid for.

It’s also a race that is ar­guably sec­ond to only the Grand Na­tional when it comes to at­tract­ing ‘once-ayear’ pun­ters to have a bet, and in re­cent years it’s cer­tainly been a con­test the book­ies have hated. From 2002 we’ve seen a stag­ger­ing 11 of the last 16 (69%) favourites take the first prize - with 14 of the last 16 mar­ket lead­ers also placed. Add in that a huge 94% of the last 16 win­ners re­turned 9/2 or shorter in the bet­ting, then this sug­gests the back­ers don’t of­ten get this race wrong – sup­ported, once again, 12 months ago with the classy Might Bite re­ward­ing favourite back­ers at 6/4.

So, can we ex­pect more of the same this year?

De­spite be­ing run over 3 miles, many feel the King Ge­orge doesn’t re­quire too much stamina with Kemp­ton be­ing flat track. How­ever, it’s nor­mally run flat-out, so whereas in other stay­ing chase races horses can get a breather – it’s not al­ways the case here. Mean­ing that stay­ing power is a big plus – this is backed-up with 14 of the last 16 win­ners hav­ing pre­vi­ously won over 3 miles.

In re­cent years the race has also been dom­i­nated by past win­ners. We’ve seen Na­tional Hunt su­per­stars like Desert Orchid, The Fel­low, One Man, See More Busi­ness, Kick­ing King, Kauto Star, Long Run and, most-re­cently, Sil­vini­aco Conti all land the King Ge­orge at least twice. So, this is surely an­other big fac­tor the book­ies must hate with the ‘once-a-year’ fes­tive pun­ters re­mem­ber­ing past he­roes and latch­ing onto them.

We can ex­pect more of the same on that score this year too with the 2017 hero – Might Bite – once again tar­geted at the race. He’s sure to go off favourite, es­pe­cially when the an­nual Christ­mas crowd re­mem­ber his name! He’ll also be look­ing to give trainer Nicky Hen­der­son his fourth suc­cess in the race since 2010. What are the key trends to look for? I’ve al­ready touched on the good record of the favourites in re­cent times; plus, past win­ners must al­ways be re­spected – how­ever, when look­ing at the main sta­bles to note, then the pow­er­ful – Paul Ni­cholls, Colin Tiz­zard and Nicky Hen­der­son - camps are the main play­ers. Be­tween the trio they’ve mopped-up ALL of the last 12 re­newals and it could be more of the same this year!

What about the Ir­ish Record? We all know that the Ir­ish have had many top stay­ing chasers over the years but it’s slightly sur­pris­ing that they’ve only won the King Ge­orge three times in the last 31 years, and the most-re­cent of those came back in 2005 with Kick­ing King. Okay they’ve gone very close sev­eral times since, most no­tably in 2015 with the ill-fated Vau­tour fail­ing by just a head, and Don Cos­sack falling that same year when hold­ing ev­ery chance. Plus, it’s also quite shock­ing that that lead­ing Ir­ish han­dler – Wil­lie Mullins – has only won the race once (Florida Pearl, 2001) , while it’s also a prize that has so far eluded the pow­er­ful Gor­don El­liott team.

Maybe the busy Christ­mas Pe­riod puts the Ir­ish off these days, while the Lexus Chase is only run two days later, with a lot of the big Ir­ish stay­ers hav­ing this race as a pref­er­ence with a lot less trav­el­ling.

Other pos­i­tive stats to note are that 15 of the last 16 win­ners have raced within the last 5 weeks, plus had also been placed in the top three in their most re­cent out­ing. With 11 of the last 16 win­ners hav­ing ac­tu­ally won last time then it’s cer­tainly worth look­ing for re­cently win­ning horses that have raced within the last 5 weeks.

Are there any good trial races to look for?

Yes, and the main one these days is the Betfair Chase - run at Hay­dock Park (24th Nov). Nine of the last 16 win­ners took that race in be­fore head­ing to the King Ge­orge – with the 2015 hero - Cue Card - be­ing the most re­cent ex­am­ple of this. By the time you read this that 3m chase would have been run, so it’s

well worth look­ing back at – oh, not only the win­ner, but also horses that con­tested that race.

What are the other main trends to look for?

French and Ir­ish-bred horses have won 14 of the last 16 run­nings, while the age of win­ners is an­other fac­tor to take into con­sid­er­a­tion. 12 of the last 16 win­ners were 8 or younger, plus win­ning form over fences here at Kemp­ton is an­other pos­i­tive - 10 of the last 16 win­ners had tasted suc­cess over the Kemp­ton ob­sta­cles in the past.

13 of the last 16 win­ners were also of­fi­cially rated 169 or higher, plus 15 of the last 16 were pre­vi­ous Grade One win­ners – most will fit that bill, but re­ally with the good record of the favourites, past win­ners and the Hen­der­son team then it’s hard to look beyond last year’s champ – Might Bite.

Yes, at 9 years-old Might Bite would have the main age stat to over­come but horses like Kauto Star (twice), Cue Card, Edredon Bleu and Florida Pearl have all shown it’s pos­si­ble to win this fes­tive prize in their ad­vanc­ing years. He’s also a fairly lightly-raced chaser for his age (at the time of writ­ing just 16 runs) so this age stat doesn’t re­ally bother me when it comes to last year’s win­ner.

So, I hope this helps and hope­fully once the fi­nal run­ners are out these trends will point you to­wards an­other King Ge­orge win­ner.Hap­pyX­masandNewYear.


2017 – Might Bite (6/4 fav) 2016 – Thistle­crack (11/10 fav) 2015 – Cue Card (9/2) 2014 - Sil­vini­aco Conti (15/8 fav) 2013 – Sil­vini­aco Conti (7/2) 2012 – Long Run (15/8 fav) 2011 – Kauto Star (3/1) 2010 – Long Run (9/2) 2009 – Kauto Star (8/13 fav) 2008 – Kauto Star (10/11 fav) 2007 – Kauto Star (4/6 fav) 2006 – Kauto Star (8/13 fav) 2005 – Kick­ing King (11/8 fav) 2004 – Kick­ing King (3/1 fav) 2003 – Edredon Bleu (25/1) 2002 – Best Mate (11/8 fav) Note: The 2005 re­newal was staged at Sandown Park


15/16 – Had won a Grade One chase be­fore 15/16 – Re­turned 9/2 or shorter in the bet­ting 15/16 – Had raced within the last 5 weeks 15/16 – Fin­ished in the top three last­time out 14/16 – Placed favourites 14/16 – French (10) or Ir­ish bred (4) 14/16 – Had won over 3m or fur­ther (fences) be­fore 13/16 – Of­fi­cially rated 169 or higher 12/16 – Aged 8 or younger 11/16 – Win­ning favourites 11/16 – Won last time out 10/16 – Had won a race over fences at Kemp­ton be­fore 9/16 – Ran in the Betfair Chase (Hay­dock) last time out 8/16 – Aged 6 or 7 years-old 7/16 – Won by pre­vi­ous win­ner of race 7/16 – Trained by Paul Ni­cholls (9 times in all) 5/16 – Rid­den by Ruby Walsh 2/16 – Rid­den by Barry Ger­aghty 2/16 – Rid­den by Noel Fe­hily 2/16 – Won by an Ir­ish-based yard (only 3 in the last 32 run­nings) Colin Tiz­zard and Nicky Hen­der­son have trained 5 of the last 8 win­ners (2 Tiz­zard, 3 Hen­der­son) The av­er­age win­ning SP in the last 16 years is 7/2

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