Cue Card trainer Colin Tizzard’s admission that his yard has been struggling with a virus all season has injected a fresh burst of life into the King George VI betting and despite Long Run’s recent demoralising form it’s the defending champion who has come in for major support.
That there has been something awry down at Tizzard’s Venn Farm yard is borne out in their seasonal statistics, with just nine per cent of his runners hitting the bull’s eye.
Each of the previous four campaigns had seen them notch winners at a strike-rate of 13 per cent or more and the trainer admitted that the virus may have been behind Cue Card’s moderate showing on his seasonal return in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.
While his stunning performance in landing Haydock’s Betfair Chase next time out suggested that there were no flies on him that afternoon, the fact that Tizzard suggested that the virus could be around all season makes backing him at 5/2 a queasy option.
Dynaste and Al Ferof in particular both make far more alluring bets at the prices.
David Pipe’s grey was a four-and-a-half length second to Cue Card at Haydock despite conceding a race’s-worth of match fitness that day and his victory over course and distance in the Feltham Novices Chase on last year’s King George card was cosier than an electric blanket.
Meanwhile Al Ferof was well fancied for last year’s race in the wake of his victory off top weight in the Paddy Power Chase, only to succumb to a season-ending injury in the build up.
However unlike Dynaste – and Long Run for that matter – he’s yet to prove a love for Kempton’s sharp, right-handed test or that he definitely stays 3m at this level.
The King George will represent his first outing at Kempton, his first run beyond 2m4f and his first Grade 1 test over fences outside of novice company, question marks which cannot be raised over Long Run.
Sam Waley-Cohen’s mount has finished first, second and first in his three King Georges to date.