21 entries remain at the acceptance stage for the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Monday 26th December. Following his brilliant 15- length-victory in the Betfair Chase, last year’s winner Cue Card will attempt to win the £200,000 Grade 1 contest for the second consecutive year as connections set their sights, once again, on the £1 million Jockey Club triple crown bonus1.
Standing in Cue Card’s way at Kempton could well be stablemate and Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack. The 2016 World Hurdle winner stretched his unbeaten record over fences to three with his most foot-perfect jumping display to date at Newbury’s Hennessey meeting.
Colin Tizzard, trainer of Cue Card and Thistlecrack, commented:
“Cue Card ran right up to his very best ability at Haydock a couple of weeks ago and we look forward to taking him to Kempton Park for the 32Red King George, a race that he won last year. He looks as well as ever at home and whether it is heavy ground or good ground I don’t think it will make much difference.
“Thistlecrack is a brilliant young horse. If he was six-years-old there is no doubt that we would go down the novice route but he is not, he is eight-going-on-nine, and we will make a decision over the next couple of weeks.’’
Having missed almost all of last season through injury, Coneygree made a fine comeback to finish second behind Cue Card in the Betfair Chase at Haydock earlier this month. The Mark Bradstock trained nine-year-old, who won the 2015 Cheltenham Gold cup as a novice, is sure to improve for the run.
Boasting nine wins, Paul Nicholls holds the leading trainer record for the 32Red King George VI Chase, five of which came with Kauto Star. Seven-time Grade One winner and dual-winner of the race, Silviniaco Conti is one of two left in by Nicholls. The Champion trainer has also left in 2015 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Dodging Bullets.
Willie Mullins’ hopes lie with unbeaten Arkle winner Douvan and the versatile OLBG Mares’ Hurdle winner, Vroum Vroum Mag. Gordon Elliott’s challenge for a first 32Red King George VI title comes from Don Poli, Outlander and Roi des Francs for owner Michael O’Leary. Henry De Bromhead is another Irish trainer to have three entries left in the race. Valseur Lido made a fantastic start to the season winning the Grade 1 JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal, beating runner-up Silviniaco Conti by eleven lengths. De Bromhead also has Champagne West and Sub Lieutenant remaining in the race.
This year’s renewal also marks 10 years since Kauto Star’s first victory in the King George VI Chase, which he went on to win a record five times (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011).
Tony Calvin, representing the sponsors 32Red, commented:
“It is obviously great news that all of the big guns have stood their ground and fingers crossed most, if not all, get to the starting line on Boxing Day.
“Last year’s winner Cue Card is obviously the one to beat after his Haydock stroll under 32Red ambassador Paddy Brennan but the main danger could yet emerge from the horse closest to home in the shape of his outstanding stablemate Thistlecrack.”
1Jockey Club Racecourses are offering a £1 million bonus if any horse wins The Jockey Club’s 3+ mile ‘Chase Triple Crown’ during the 2016/17 Jump season. The three races involved are the Betfair Chase (Haydock Park, 19th November), the 32Red King George VI Chase (Kempton Park, 26th December) and the Timico Gold Cup (Cheltenham, 17th March 2017).
Blaklion (GB), Bristol de Mai (FR) Camping Ground (FR), Champagne West (IRE), Coneygree (GB), Cue Card (GB), Dodging Bullets (GB), Don Poli (IRE), Douvan (FR), Irish Cavalier (IRE), More of That (IRE), Outlander (IRE), Road To Riches (IRE), Roi des Francs (FR), Silviniaco Conti (FR) Sub Lieutenant (IRE), Tea For Two (GB), Thistlecrack (GB), Un Temps Pour Tout (IRE), Valseur Lido (FR), Vroum Vroum Mag (FR)