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This years’ King George VI Chase at Kempton looks an absolute cracker on paper and should give us the first real indication of who should be heading the Cheltenham Gold Cup Ante Post market.
KING GEORGE VI CHASE TIP – DON COSSACK – 2pts win @ 9/4
Don Cossack of Gordon Elliott is current favourite at 9/4 and there is little to suggest why he shouldn’t be, given that he is the highest rated jumper in training at the moment. Willie Mullins’ Vautour is 2nd favourite whilst the impressive Betfair Chase winner Cue Card is available at 4/1.
Smad Place and current King George holder Silviniaco Conti are next in the betting whilst Al Ferof, Valsuer Lido, Irish Cavalier and Ballynagour finish off the runners.
I’ll start off with the favourite Don Cossack, who has done nothing but improve for the majority of his career. The apple of his trainers’ eye has put some excellent rivals firmly in their place, but for defeat to Uxizandre in last years’ Ryanair Chase, his form since the start of last season is unblemished.
He won at ease last time out against Rocky Creek and Roi Du Mee, although those opponents are nothing in comparison to these rivals, he has already beaten the likes of Cue Card, Al Ferof and Ballynagour beaten in the past. Even at 9/4 he looks excellent value and I would suggest getting your ante post Gold Cup bets on him in quickly.
Vautour would have been my selection in this race until last month, when I heard a rumour that Willie Mullins sees the Ryanair as the more viable option for him this season. Vautour has looked an excellent prospect ever since bursting on the scene in December 2013, his Supreme Novice and JLT wins at Cheltenham have proved the courses taken so far with him have been correct ones.
His owner has always seen him as a Gold Cup horse however Mullins has always thought otherwise and with Djakadam in their ranks and Don Poli, another Mullins horse entered for the Gold Cup, chances are the rumours could come in to fruition following this race on Boxing Day.
Vautour’s tenancy to jump left won’t suit him at Kempton and I fear this race will not be the one where he shows his true potential.
Cue Card’s performance in the Betfair Chase was by far the best of his career, however he has been beaten by Don Cossack twice in his career and at 9 years old I don’t see him improving enough to turn the tables on him. He is definitely one for place money however I would not suggest backing him against the favourite.
Smad Place’s Hennessy win can’t be underestimated given he was carrying a decent weight and that when he hit the front it never looked like anyone would peg him back, so it showed winning by 12 lengths hard held. It’s tough to gauge how impressive that performance was but this race will show just how far the horse has come.
Silviniaco Conti is looking for a hat trick of King George VI victories and is by far the biggest price he’s ever been for the race. The form of this year’s race between him and Cue Card looks very similar to that of 2013 where Cue Card beat Silviniaco at Haydock, before the latter turned the tables in the King George on the former and at the prices I would be putting a cheeky each way saver on Silviniaco here.
He clearly loves jumping fences around here and should be in the shake-up. Whether he can compete with Don Cossack remains to be seen.
1st – DON COSSACK, 2nd – SILVINIACO CONTI, 3rd – CUE CARD
In other races on Boxing Day, Faugheen looks to redeem his reputation in the Christmas hurdle. The ante post favourite for the Champion Hurdle was surprisingly beaten by stablemate Nichols Canyon last time out, but he is fully expected to put his credentials on show at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Douvan reappears at Leopardstown in the Racing Post Novice Chase and it will be interesting to see how he fares up against just three rivals. Willie Mullins has a strong hand over Christmas and he is another Mullins horse that will be expected to rout his rivals and show off his Cheltenham Festival credentials.