The King George VI has been shared exclusively between Kauto Star (5) and Long Run (2) since 2006, but the latter could face a new challenge in this year’s renewal in the shape of 10/1 shot Sir Des Champs.
Willie Mullins’ charge gave the Boxing Day meet a miss last year, but should he enter this time around may well end the recent Nicholls-Henderson duopoly.
The Irish trainer has made no secret of his intention to come to England “much more regularly with our better horses”, words which will raise an eyebrow or two amongst the country’s leading jumps trainers.
The seven-year-old went into the off-season having sensationally landed the the Punchestown Gold Cup, where he showed tremendous staying power to beat two-time King George winner Long Run by three quarters of a length.
The 57-year-old sadler has won the King George before, with Florida Pearl in 2001, and will be encouraged by his charge’s efforts last season.
That win at Punchestown preceded a notable win at Leopardstown – in which he overturned the favourite and previous conqueror Flemenstar – before a second-place finish in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, losing no face in following Bob’s Worth – and getting the better of Long Run again.
Mullins will no doubt be keen to test his gelding’s mettle in the Kempton showpiece, and with seven scores from 10 efforts over fences – all victories coming under Davy Russell – he would appear to have every chance.
Nicky Henderson’s Simonsig currently leads the ante-post market at 4/1, though the three-mile trip represents an entirely unknown challenge for the seven-year-old grey, while David Pipe’s charge Dynaste currently sits second in the betting at 6/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing
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