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All eyes focused on thrilling King George VI clash

December 19, 2012 02:41:41 PM

Kempton‘s Grade 1 William Hill King George VI Chase is always a high-class affair and this year’s renewal is no exception, with a host of talented chasers set to face the starter for the Boxing Day showcase event that doubles as the mid-season chasing championship.

The 2010 renewal of the three-mile contest had to be delayed until mid-January 2011 following a period of freezing weather, but produced a highly impressive winner in the shape of the Nicky Henderson-trained Long Run, who beat his stable companion Riverside Theatre by an easy 12 lengths before going on to beat both Denman and Kauto Star in a stunning renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup a couple of months later.

Both Long Run and Riverside Theatre, (winner of last season’s Grade 1 Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March), are expected to be in the Kempton line-up once again, and despite having been beaten in four of his last five racecourse appearances, Long Run is a rock solid 7/2 ante-post market leader with the likes of Paddy Power racing betting online after running well in defeat and looking as though the outing would do him good when runner-up to the exciting Silviniaco Conti at Haydock last month in the Betfair Chase.

The current market second choice is the rapidly progressive Al Ferof, trained by Paul Nicholls, who has already bagged one big prize this term in landing the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November, an impressive performance in which the galloping grey saw off Walkon to stamp himself as a potential threat to Long Run at Kempton. Bookmakers rate the John Hales-owned gelding a 6/1 chance, just ahead of Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card, who bolted up by 26 lengths on his seasonal bow in the Grade 2 Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter early last month, beating Edgardo Sol and Menorah with ridiculous ease and sending out a string signal that he too will be in there pitching at the business end of the big Sunbury chase.

The aforementioned Riverside Theatre is bracketed at 8/1 with former Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Sizing Europe, Ireland’s main hope in the ‘King George’ and proven over the extra mile having twice gone close at the trip in the Grade 1 Chase at Down Royal in recent seasons.

With the classy trio of Grand Crus, Captain Chris, and current champion chaser Finian’s Rainbow all on offer at 12/1, as well as plenty of other smart performers in with a squeak, the King George VI promises, as usual, to be a race to savor.

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