Paul Nicholls has previous when it comes to successfully managing the progression of a Group 1-winning horse over 2m who then steps up to win the King George VI Chase over 3m at Kempton.
However, Kauto Star was one of the greatest steeplechasers of the modern era and horses of his ilk do not come along often. He eventually won the King George on a record five occasions.
The flatter nature of Kempton does tend to favour the speedier types, as opposed to the more undulating Cheltenham Gold Cup, which is also contested over an additional 2f.
Yet, those testing their stamina in the King George having previously been seen to best effect over shorter distances have generally come up short in recent years.
Vautour was touched off as his stamina reserves appeared to empty by the staying-on Cue Card last Boxing Day, while Silviniaco Conti beat a field full of suspect stayers in 2014.
One horse set to get an entry into this year’s King George is the Nicholls-trained Dodging Bullets, who won the 2m Queen Mother Champion Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival.
In the last season he looked outclassed in the same division behind a rejuvenated Sprinter Sacre and Un De Sceaux, while the potential of star novice Douvan suggests that getting back to the top of the 2m tree is a big ask for Dodging Bullets.
Unsurprisingly, Nicholls reportedly revealed at a recent owners day that a step up in trip was expected this season and a crack at the 2m4f Ryanair Chase at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival is a realistic target.
Being flat-bred doesn’t bode well for Dodging Bullet’s chances of staying 3m, while he has only beaten one horse home across his two previous runs over 2m4f. These losses at Aintree have been by a combined 96 lengths.
On the plus side, the eight-year-old has won his two career chase starts at Kempton, which suggests he at least possesses a liking for the course.
Dodging Bullets is priced at 33/1 in the ante-post King George betting and it will take a training performance of the highest calibre from Nicholls to achieve this result.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.