King George VI Chase the highlight of festive racing calendar

One of Jump Racing’s biggest prizes takes centre-stage on Boxing Day at Kempton Park racecourse with the running of the King George VI Chase.

Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 1:11 pm
Bryony Frost riding Frodon clear the last to win The Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton Park in 2020

Won by some of the sport’s greats including Wayward Lad, Desert Orchid and Kauto Star. Nine runners go to post for the three-mile event, including past winners Clan Des Obeaux and Frodon.

With reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup champion Minella Indo and the classy Asterion Forlonge is also in the mix, this year’s contest has the makings of being an absolute classic.

We have previewed the contest with our runner by runner guide to one of the biggest races of the season. Check horse racing betting for the latest odds.

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Asterion Forlonge Trainer: Willie Mullins Odds: 11/2

There is plenty to like about Asterion Forlonge’s chances. The galloping grey was travelling powerfully before falling at the third-last in the John Durkan Memorial at Punchestown and he finally looks to be fulfilling the potential that connections have always thought he has had. Clearly, he is a much better horse going right-handed and he got into a fantastic rhythm before falling at Punchestown. The flat track here at Kempton looks sure to play to his strengths and it has to be noted when Willie Mullins decides to run a horse in this race, having landed the 2001 running with Florida Pearl and coming within a nose of landing the 2015 renewal with Vautor who lost a classic to Cue Card. He is clearly the pick of Mullins’ duo which also boasts Tornado Flyer and he has to be deeply respected in this event.

Chantry House Trainer: Nicky Henderson Odds: 9/2

A horse who should be suited by Kempton, given the manner of his win at another Flat track Aintree last season. Chantry House ran out an impressive winner of the Turners Novices’ Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival and he looks sure to be suited by three miles at Kempton. He warmed up for this event with an easy win in an intermediate chase event which Henderson has won with the likes of Santini and Might Bite in the past, but this is a big step up running in open category against older horses. This will clearly be his stiffest test to date, but he is another who warrants respect in Sunday’s big one.

Clan Des Obeaux Trainer: Paul Nicholls Odds: 11/4

A dual winner of this event, Clan Des Obeaux was only third in the 2020 running, but that came off the back of a tough second in the Betfair Chase on very testing ground. Trainer Paul Nicholls has instead tried a different approach with the nine-year-old who has been kept fresh for this assignment. There is a concern he may well be too keen for this contest, but Nicholls will have this classy chaser primed for this event and he looks sure to put a bold step forward in attempting to record a third win in the Festive feature.

Frodon Trainer: Paul Nicholls Odds: 9/2

A real fan favourite, Frodon and rider Bryony Frost have been brilliant ambassadors for the sport in recent years and they will look to defend their crown at Kempton on Boxing Day following a memorable win 12 months ago. The Nickname gelding looked as good as ever when landing the Champion Chase at Downroyal last time out in which he jumped with aplomb to see off Galvin and Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Minella Indo. However, he is not guaranteed to get an early lead in this contest like he got at Downroyal and indeed last term in this event. His rivals, notably Asterion Forlonge are clearly going to put pressure on him from the front and that tempers enthusiasm for his chances in this year’s event.

Lostintranslation Trainer: Colin Tizzard Odds: 11/1

A horse with an abundance of quality, but also problems given he has burst a blood vessel in the past. A leading fancy for this race in 2019, he failed to fire and has endured more setbacks since. However, he did look to be back to somewhere near his best when an impressive winner at Ascot on his seasonal debut. There are lingering doubts about his past injury curtailments, but if fit he is a leading player.

Minella Indo Trainer: Henry De Bromhead Odds: 3/1

The one to beat. Minella Indo enjoyed the biggest success of his career when landing the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup, but there are hopefully still plenty of big days ahead for the classy eight-year-old. He is bidding to become the first Irish-trained winner of the King George VI Chase since Kicking King in 2005 and looks to hold the capabilities to take this prize back across the Irish sea. He ran a race full of promise on his return to action when third to Frodon at Down Royal. He clearly badly needed that reappearance and will strip much fitter because of it. Despite concerns about this course being too flat for him, there is nothing to suggest that he will not handle it and given his progressive profile he makes plenty of appeal.

Mister Fisher Trainer: Nicky Henderson Odds: 25/1

This looks a tough ask on his seasonal reappearance. A likeable individual he was second to Chantry House at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, but this demands more and he is not a guarantied stayer

Saint Calvados Trainer: Paul Nicholls Odds: 14/1

A very interesting runner on his first start for Paul Nicholls given he goes very well fresh. The eight-year-old ran a huge race to finish fourth in the 2020 running of the King George VI Chase and looked a real contender turning for home before the petrol gauge went empty. However, if he can be ridden with more restraint this time around, he could be a massive each-way player for this year’s running.

Tornado Flyer Trainer: Willie Mullins Odds: 20/1

Talented, but he was a well-beaten fifth on his return to action in the John Durkan Memorial. He will clearly come on a bundle for that, but it is hard to see him taking the step up needed to win this event.

Verdict: A brilliant race in prospect. Dual winner Clan Des Obeaux and the thoroughly unexposed Asterion Forlonge are both key players, but Minella Indo is taken to back up his Gold Cup heroics with King George glory. He should come on plenty for a good third on his reappearance at Downroyal and he is taken to land the Festive feature.

1 Minella Indo 2 Clan Des Obeaux 3 Asterion Forlonge

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