Wednesday December 7, 2016
Ever since 1937, the King George VI Chase has taken place on Boxing Day. This is a National Hunt chase that takes place over three miles at Kempton Park. The race includes 18 fences, so it provides a challenge for the runners and riders who take part.
The event got its name from the new monarch at the time, King George VI. The timing of the event meant it was only run for two years prior to World War II starting. It would be 1947 before the race resumed, some years after the war ended.
The royal connections and the history of the race has led it to be viewed as the second most important chase in the calendar. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is top of the list. While many horses have won the chase, only a handful have won it more than once. A total of 14 horses hold this honour. Kauto Star won it four years in a row between 2006 and 2009, winning it again in 2011 to make it five wins. It holds the record for this performance. Ruby Walsh, who rode Kauto Star to the win each time, is the most successful jockey. It won’t surprise you to learn the horse’s trainer, Paul Nicholls, is the most successful. Apart from five wins with Kauto Star, Paul has also enjoyed two further wins with See More Business and another two with Silviniaco Conti.
So, which horse will win this year? Well, last year Cue Card took the top honours on Boxing Day, ridden to the finish line by Paddy Brennan. Will this horse manage to do the same again this year, becoming the 15th horse to win more than once in the process? The last 10 years have been dominated by Paul Nicholls thanks to his excellent training and choice of horses, but could this be about to end? We shall see come Boxing Day.
Cue Card, last year’s winner, currently has odds of around 6/4, while Coneygree has odds of 5/1. These are all set to change as the race nears, and many might like to choose longer odds in the hope of winning more if they are right. Will you get it right this Christmas?