One of the most open renewals of the King George VI Chase in a number of years could see as many as six horses go off at single-figure odds.
Might Bite, Native River and Bristol De Mai are among the sextet eyeing up the £142,375 prize.
But with Waiting Patiently, Politologue and Thistlecrack also fluttering their eyelashes ahead of the 3m Grade 1 contest, it’s anyone’s to win. We’ve previewed Kempton’s Boxing Day showdown.
Might Bite, Waiting Patiently, Politologue
It seems odd to class Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Might Bite as a gamble. But that’s what we think he is after a seriously worrying reappearance in the Lancashire Chase last month.
Nicky Henderson’s charge didn’t look up to the task at Haydock and requires a big step forward if he’s to retain the crown he won 12 months ago. In a deeper field than last time, that could be tough.
Could that let in Waiting Patiently? Maybe. Although it’d require a mammoth effort from Ruth Jefferson’s charge to become the first horse in history to win this on seasonal reappearance.
The seven-year-old does at least boast an unbeaten record so far over fences, even if he’s untried over the 3m distance. In short, he has plenty of questions to answer here.
Politologue’s big conundrum is whether he stays or not. The seven-year-old has shown plenty of pace before now and tends to idle when out in front, which could be a problem.
Nevertheless, Paul Nicholls has won the King George a record-breaking nine times. And if he reckons the raider is suited to stay, who are we to disagree? He tops the shortlist for us.
Native River, Bristol De Mai, Thistlecrack
Punters may ask why Native River isn’t shorter for the King George after his Gold Cup victory last season and a sound return at Haydock last month. Quite simply, this is a different test.
Kempton is a sharper track and the raider didn’t enjoy his last run over these fences – albeit it three years ago. He’s a good slogger, though, and could run into the places with the Gold Cup his big aim.
That could make Bristol De Mai an appetising shout. Critics will note that the seven-year-old can’t do it away from Haydock. They could have a point, or maybe the tide is changing.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge surprised us all to land the Lancashire Chase on ground other than heavy. After shedding his reputation as a mudlark, he could go well here fresh for the first time.
Thistlecrack hasn’t been the same horse since a long injury layoff two years ago. But his run at Haydock last suggests the ability is still there, and he could come on once again at Kempton.
The 10-year-old will need to sharpen up his jumping, though. If he can do that, then he could well be in the mix to land his second King George crown two years after his first.
Rest of the field
It’s difficult to see the remainder challenging, with Lancashire Chase fourth Clan Des Obeaux given the best chance of the quartet on each-way terms.
Where: Kempton Park
When: 3:05pm, Wednesday 26th December, 2018.
How to watch: ITV
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing