(2.5 minutes read)
The Christmas national hunt festivities kick off with a potentially enrthralling King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
The field for the race may be small but the contest is more than made up for in terms of the quality set to line up. Dual Ryanair Chase winner Allaho currently leads the market but faces a tough challenge from reigning champion Bravemansgame and the quirky but talented Shishkin.
2020 winner Frodon represents the second string for Paul Nicholls.
We preview the race and provides best odds and best bets from our partner firms, Bet365, William Hill, Betfred, Bet Victor and Boylesports.
The Willie Mullins trained juggernaut is rightfully a well backed favourite on the strength of his staggering Ryanair Chase and Punchestown Gold Cup wins back in 2022.
But plenty of question marks remain. We don’t know how much the injury has taken out of him that resulted in the horse being off the track for 19 months.
Additionally, he is now a nine year old. His comeback run last month was comfortable enough although his tendency to jump left was still evident. This will not aid him on a tight right handed track like Kempton.
His best runs have also been achieved at around 2m 4-5f although he stayed 3 miles at Punchestown so the trip should not be a bother. However, Willie Mullins is clearly happy with him and if Allaho can reproduce his best, he will be the one to beat. 13/8 best with Bet365, William Hill, Betfred, Bet Victor and Boylesports.
Question marks also characterise the participation of the Paul Nicholls’ trained leviathan that is Bravemansgame.
The Ditcheat handler would be first to admit that the plan for this season has not entirely gone to plan with inexplicable defeats in The Charlie Hall and Betfair Chase.
Nevertheless, Bravemansgame will be match fit for Boxing Day and his long term form is arguably stronger than Allaho having won last year’s renewal and running a brave second to Galopin Des Champs in The Cheltenham Gold Cup.
He is the best jumper in the field and always travels well. It’s a case of fine tuning his finishes and effectively seeing out his races, which is where the problem has materialised this season. If he’s back to his best, he can give Allaho more than a contest. Bravemansgame is our choice to land a second King George. 2/1 best with Bet365, William Hill, Betfred, Bet Victor and Boylesports.
The enigmatic Nicky Henderson charge has caused all number of headaches for the Seven Barrows team this season whether it be down to the weather or the horse having a sulk and not even starting a race whilst under starter’s orders. Not having a run this season thus far also adds concern.
It’s difficult to predict which Shishkin will turn up on Boxing Day but if its the Shishkin that won the Aintree Grade One last April, Allaho and Bravemansgame have something to fear. Shishkin has been well backed in recent days. Best odds 4/1 with bet365.
The Real Whacker
The Nigel Twiston Davies charge would be a popular winner and represents something of a dark horse within the contest. His chances are based firmly on his sensational Brown Advisory Novices Chase win from last March where he put the highly regarded Gerri Colombe to the sword.
Clearly if that kind of form is replicated on Boxing Day, he has a great chance. However, he may find the front three too speedy on this occasion. Best odds 9/1 with Bet Victor and Betfred.
The Shark Hanlon trained enigma comes into this based on his bet365 Gold Cup and Galway Plate wins but still needs to improve dramatically to figure here. Best odds 16/1 with Bet365, Bet Victor and Betfred.
The 2020 King George winner looks to be past his best years now although the heart and determination is still there based on his brave run in the Badger Beers handicap last month.
An eight runner affair would certainly create an each way scenario for this Paul Nicholls trained veteran, however, the 50/1 with Bet Victor merely represents a fun pennies bet if anything. Nevertheless, if Frodon is allowed to dominate he could certainly influence the outcome.
The front two in the market are rightfully commanding the headlines. Shishkin represents a major threat but will need to iron out the quirks that have dogged previous performances but his staying prowess should not be ignored. Allaho oozes class but his tendency to jump left and question marks over his injury recovery leaves the door open for Bravemansgame to revitalise his form and claim a second King George.
Selection: Bravemansgame 2/1 with Bet365, William Hill, Betfred, Bet Victor and Boylesports.
Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (5pm 23rd December 2023) and are subject to change.