King George VI Chase Date is Saturday, 26 December 2020 (3:05)

Racecourse: Kempton Park

Age Of The Horses: 4 Years Old and Older

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Type: Grade 1 National Hunt Steeplechase (3 miles)

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Trial race for the Cheltenham Gold Cup

Winner 2019: Clan Des Obeaux

Kempton Park’s King George VI Chase, run every year on Boxing Day as part of their Christmas Festival, is a three-mile chase featuring 18 fences. Run at Grade 1 level, the King George Chase is considered to be second only to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in importance as far as staying chases go within the British National Hunt season.

Page Contents

General Race Info

Runners & Tips

Stats & Trends

Past Winners

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2019 King George VI Chase General Info

The Christmastime highlight of National Hunt horse racing, the King George VI Chase was first run in 1937 to celebrate the crowning of the UK’s last male monarch, King George VI. As the highlight of the Christmas Festival at Kempton Park run annually on Boxing Day (the opening day of a two-day meeting), this race marks the midway point of the jumps season. With an illustrious roll of honour containing a number of legendary multiple winners that gives the Cheltenham Gold Cup a run for its money, the King George is one of the most prestigious staying steeplechases in Britain.

Great jumpers including Arkle, Captain Christy, Pendil, Wayward Lad, Desert Orchid, See More Business, Kicking King and Kauto Star have all won the race more than once. Racehorses need speed as well as stamina to win with Kempton offering a very different test on its tight, right-handed track to the undulations of Cheltenham and the famous spruce covered fences of the Grand National course at Aintree. The King George VI Chase is the second leg of the Stayers’ Chase Triple Crown following the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park in November and the Gold Cup itself in March.

2020 King George VI Chase Runners

A maximum of 20 will be allowed to line up with the King George VI Chase 2020. Here is a list of possible King George VI Chase entries:

  1. Allaho (Willie Mullins, IRE
  2. Black Op (Tom George)
  3. Champ (Nicky Henderson)
  4. Chris’s Dream (Henry De Bromhead, IRE)
  5. Clan Des Obeaux (Paul Nicholls)
  6. Copperhead (Colin Tizzard)
  7. Cyrname (Paul Nicholls)
  8. Kemboy (Willie Mullins, IRE)
  9. La Bague Au Roi (Warren Greatrex)
  10. Lostintranslation (Colin Tizzard)
  11. Min (Willie Mullins, IRE)
  12. Minella Indo (Henry De Bromhead, IRE)
  13. Monalee (Henry De Bromhead, IRE)
  14. Real Steel (Paul Nicholls)
  15. Saint Calvados (Harry Whittington)
  16. Samcro (Gordon Elliott, IRE)
  17. Santini (Nicky Henderson)
  18. Slate Hate (Colin Tizzard)
  19. Topofthegame (Paul Nicholls)
  20. Vinndication (Kim Bailey)

Most bookmakers offer betting on the King George all year round. It is one of the final Grade 1 races in any calendar year in Britain. This is more than just a stepping stone to the Cheltenham Gold Cup, as the race is a valuable and prestigious one in its own right. If you are thinking of having an ante post bet on the King George VI Chase, remember that while on one hand you are likely to get much bigger odds, you are not guaranteed a run for your money.

That is the chance you take, but you can be sure that top National Hunt trainers will be aiming their best staying chasers at the race. While runners won’t be confirmed until much closer to Christmas, these are the fancied runners in the ante post market on the King George this year.

Clan Des Obeaux (11/2)

It comes as no surprise to find the betting headed by Clan Des Obeaux, winner of the King George in each of the last two seasons. Trained by Paul Nicholls, he is the latest multiple victor that first triumphed in the race at the end of his six-year-old year. A gelding by Kapgarde that is part-owned by legendary former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Clan Des Obeaux usually needs his first run of the campaign.

Prior to winning the King George VI Chase for the first time in 2018, he was a fair fourth in the Betfair Chase. Clan Des Obeaux came on for that when holding previous race winner Thistlecrack by 1½ lengths and asserting in the final 100 yards of this Kempton Christmastime feature. Connections were dreaming of Gold Cup glory, and an impressive 11-length victory in the Grade 2 Denman Chase under a penalty at Ascot saw him sent off just 5/1 at the Cheltenham Festival.

Unlike Kempton, Cheltenham just isn’t the track for Clan Des Obeaux. He was only fifth in the 2019 Gold Cup and didn’t get up the hill. Clan Des Obeaux put in better efforts when runner-up in both the Betway Bowl at Aintree and the Down Royal Champion Chase on reappearance last season. A successful defence of his King George crown followed. Clan Des Obeaux truly made the race his own, outstaying stable companion Cyrname for an eased down 21-length victory.

Nicholls tried the Gold Cup with him again in 2020, but he faded badly to be eighth. Clan Des Obeaux has every right to head the King George betting at a standout 11/2 with bet365. The plan is to return to action in the Betfair Chase again, and that should put him spot on to complete his hat-trick at Kempton.

Lostintranslation (8/1)

Colin Tizzard is no stranger to success in the King George either. He saddled Cue Card (2015) and Thistlecrack (2016) to wins in the race in recent years, and Lostintranslation looks to continue that tradition. An eight-year-old gelding by stamina laden sire Flemensfirth, he was a revelation when first stepping up to staying trips in the spring of 2019.

Lostintranslation was a runner-up three times in Grade 1 company before a breakthrough at elite level when landing the Mildmay Novices’ Chase during the Grand National Festival at Aintree. He took the scalp of 2019 RSA Novices’ Chase scorer Topofthegame, quickly coming clear for a six-length success. Tizzard used a Listed intermediate event at Carlisle to get Lostintranslation ready after a summer off.

That reappearance run blew away any cobwebs and he took a second Grade 1 under an ice cool ride from regular jockey Robbie Power in the Betfair Chase. Lostintranslation was held up well off the pace, but jumped into second place four out. He travelled strongly when switched on by his rider and stayed on well for a 1½ lengths victory over Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai.

The only concern about subsequent Gold Cup third Lostintranslation for the King George is his performance in it last year. He was sent off at odds of 15/8 but ran no race at all and got pulled up. While he has since had a wind operation to help his breathing and shaped much better when just 1½ lengths behind Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup, caution is advised over general ante post odds of 8/1.

Champ (10/1)

Nicky Henderson has three previous wins in the King George VI Chase courtesy of Long Run (2010 and 2012) and Might Bite (2017). In Champ, he has one of the most lauded racehorses ever owned by legendary Irish gambler JP McManus. Named after former retained rider and 20-time British champion jump jockey Sir Tony McCoy, this eight-year-old son of King’s Theatre has big expectations to shoulder.

A Grade 1 winning staying novice hurdler, Champ’s campaign last season was geared around winning the RSA Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Things did not go smoothly, however, either in his prep runs or the big race target itself. Champ was caught out by the cross fence on the turn for home at Newbury, but still managed to win his chasing debut readily enough.

Henderson then ran him at the Winter Carnival held at the same venue in the Grade 2 Berkshire Novices’ Chase. Champ was hampered by a loose horse and stumbled badly at the third fence as a result, but soon recovered. Barry Geraghty later had to stop him from running around another circuit of Newbury at the elbow, and bravely snatched him up to win.

When bidding for a hat-trick under a penalty in the Group 2 Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, and with Henderson at pains to not run Champ over three miles before the Festival, he fell. He was four lengths up and still going well enough when coming to grief two out, but connections were not discouraged by this.

Champ went to the RSA as a 4/1 chance to win, but traded far bigger in the run. He pecked on landing two out and made up almost nine lengths from the last to the line, storming home. It was a miraculous recovery to get up and score by a length under an inspired ride from Geraghty. The only problem with odds of 10/1 for Champ in the King George is he must brush up on his jumping and now needs a new jockey.

King George VI Chase Stats & Trends

Since 2000, five King George Chase winners have gone on to land the Gold Cup at Cheltenham proving that it takes a top-class chaser to win this, the average SP of the last 19 winners being 4/1 despite a couple of 12/1 and 25/1 winners. Taking out those longshots in fact leaves the average SP at less than 5/2, so don’t look too far down the list.

While looking at trends and statistics doesn’t guarantee you will find the King George VI Chase winner, you can make better informed betting decisions by knowing what they are. A total of 14 different horses have won the race more than once. The same trainers target the King George year after year, so it is worth bearing the following in mind:

  • Most successful horse – None other than the mighty Kauto Star who won dominated the race in the second half of the 2000s. He landed a record fifth King George VI Chase crown aged 11 in 2011.
  • Leading jockey – Ruby Walsh partnered Kauto Star to all five of his triumphs. We may never see their like again.
  • Leading trainer – Paul Nicholls is by far and away the most successful trainer in the storied history of this race. He has sent out the King George winner from his Ditcheat stables in Dorset a record 11 times. What is incredible is those success have come with just four different horses: See More Business (1997 and 1999), Kauto Star (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011), Silviniaco Conti (2013 and 2014), and Clan Des Obeaux (2018 and 2019).
  • Leading owner – Clive Smith owned Kauto Star throughout his National Hunt career in the British Isles and is thus the most successful owner in the history of the King George VI Chase.
  • Age – As the same horses keep turning up in the race, an age profile is trickier than other events but, with a few notable exceptions, concentrating on those aged between six and nine produces the vast majority of victors. Three of the last six King George winners were eight-year-olds, so concentrating your efforts there when betting could pay off.

Betting Offers

With a race as big as the King George VI Chase, you can be sure there will be bonuses and promotions relating to it. As this event takes place over Christmas, check back during the festive period to find more details of all the 2020 available King George offers.

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Past King George VI Chase Winners

Despite a poor reappearance run at Haydock, much was expected of RSA Chase winner and Gold Cup runner-up Might Bite who went off 3/1 favourite for the 2018 King George at Kempton, with Native River and Politologue not far behind at 9/2 and 5/1.

Despite being an outsider at 12/1, Paul Nicholls had said in interviews that there was likely more to come from his Clan Des Obeaux and the six-year-old duly obliged with a taking performance to land the spoils by 1½ lengths from previous winner Thistlecrack. Here are all the King George VI Chase past winners from 2010 onwards with how they fared at the following Cheltenham Festival:

Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer Festival Performance
2019 Clan Des Obeaux 7 Sam Twiston-Davies Paul Nicholls 5th in Gold Cup
2018 Clan Des Obeaux 6 Harry Cobden Paul Nicholls 5th in Gold Cup
2017 Might Bite 8 Nico de Boinville Nicky Henderson 2nd in Gold Cup
2016 Thistlecrack 8 Tom Scudamore Colin Tizzard Did not race
2015 Cue Card 9 Paddy Brennan Colin Tizzard Fell in Gold Cup
2014 Silviniaco Conti 8 Noel Fehily Paul Nicholls 7th in Gold Cup
2013 Silviniaco Conti 7 Noel Fehily Paul Nicholls 4th in Gold Cup
2012 Long Run 7 Sam Waley-Cohen Nicky Henderson 3rd in Gold Cup
2011 Kauto Star 11 Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls Pulled-up in Gold Cup
2010 Long Run 6 Sam Waley-Cohen Nicky Henderson 1st in Gold Cup

What Happened in 2019?

Clan Des Obeaux retained his King George crown with an emphatic victory over stable companion Cyrname. Returned at 11/2, he raced in touch and chased the leader from the twelfth fence before coming upsides travelling strongly at the third last. Clan Des Obeaux jumped to the front two out and he was soon clear.

Sam Twiston-Davies took over the ride from Harry Cobden, who opted for 5/4 favourite Cyrname, and could afford to ease him down close home. The King George field was well strung out with 21 lengths between the winner and runner-up. Irish raider Footpad was a further five lengths behind in third with Aso last to finish and 15/8 chance Lostintranslation pulled up.

2018 King George VI Chase Result

Clan Des Obeaux pulled off a 12/1 shock in the King George after taking a major step forward from his run in the Betfair Chase. He raced well in touch, but wasn’t fluent at the fourth fence. That mistake didn’t prove too costly, but the same could not be said of 8/1 shot Bristol De Mai, however, who came to grief at the ninth. That in turn forced the 4/1 northern raider Waiting Patiently to unseat his rider with jockey Brian Hughes beating the ground in frustration.

Previous King George winner Might Bite was sent off the 3/1 favourite but failed to defend his crown and was last of seven finishers from a field of ten when found to have bled after the race. Former Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree also unseated Sean Bowen two out. That didn’t affect Clan Des Obeaux, though, who tracked the leading trio from the fourteenth fence and moved into second approaching three from home.

He was in front by the last and still going well, finding enough on the run-in to hold 15/2 chance and 2016 King George victor Thistlecrack by 1½ lengths. The front two pulled a further twelve lengths clear of the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River at 9/2 in third. Nicholls also had 5/1 hope Politologue running but he didn’t get the trip and came fourth, still well ahead of outsider pair Double Shuffle and Tea For Two.

2017 King George VI Chase Result

Might Bite won a third Grade 1 of the calendar year and justified favouritism at 6/4 with victory in the King George. After pressing the leader, Henderson’s Scorpion gelding kept putting his head in front before jockey Nico de Boinville took him back. He let Might Bite go on approaching three out, but he started idling from the second last, so his jockey had to drive him out for a length win over 50/1 outsider Double Shuffle.

Tea For Two, a winner over course and distance, was a further couple of lengths back in third at 20/1 with the previous year’s King George VI Chase scorer Thistlecrack further behind at 5/1 in fourth. That quartet were well clear of Ladbrokes Trophy runner-up Whisper, a stable companion of Might Bite’s. Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai was sixth and Traffic Fluide last to finish. Fox Norton – another for the victorious trainer in 2016, Colin Tizzard – was pulled up when not staying the trip.