The King George VI Chase is a Grade 1 National Hunt steeplechase and is open to horses aged four years or older.
It is run at Kempton Park over a distance of about 3 miles, and during its running there are eighteen fences to be jumped.
The race is scheduled to take place each year on Boxing Day, and features as part of the course’s Christmas Festival.
For 2023, the King George VI Chase will take place on December 26th, at Kempton Racecourse at 2:30pm.
Origins of the Race
First run in February 1937, the event was named in honour of the new British monarch, King George VI.
It was run only twice before World War II, during which Kempton Park was closed for racing and used as a prisoner-of-war camp.
Just four horses contested each the two pre-war runnings. The winner of the first, Southern Hero, remains the races’ oldest ever winner.
After the war, the racecourse re-opened, and the event returned in 1947 on a new date – Boxing Day.
The King George VI Chase is now the second most prestigious chase in England, surpassed only by the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Fifteen horses have won it more than once, Desert Orchid won it four times and Kauto Star won it five times.
So who is in the running in 2023 and will the race throw up any clues as to who could run a great Gold Cup in 2024?
King George VI Chase 2023 Odds
(*odds correct as of 24/12/23)
There are definitely some clear favourites on the betting markets.
|The Real Whacker
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King George VI Chase 2023 Runners Guide
Bravemansgame – Paul Nicholls
The yard are certainly in decent enough form and he has been unlucky to find at least one too strong on his last two starts.
He comes here to defend his crown and that could happen now that he is back at one of his favoured tracks.
He should come into his own and should be at peak fitness now following those two previous starts. It is worth bearing in mind that he is another year older though.
His course and distance winning experience will stand him in good stead and Paul Nicholls is bidding for a seventh win in this race since 2013.
Bravemansgame raced at Haydock prior to coming into this and if the ground is on the better side of soft, he would likely be considered a prime contender for this prize.
Given his trainer’s record in this race it would be of no surprise to see him reverse recent form with Royal Pagaille on this somewhat better looking ground.
Allaho – Willie Mullins
Allaho defied an eighteen-month absence to continue his winning sequence and making it seven wins from his last eight starts.
That last run came on desperate ground at Clonmel and he won with some authority.
This is only the second time that he has been asked to race at three miles, although he won the Punchestown Gold Cup over this trip with the minimum of fuss back in April 2022.
Willie Mullins trained Tornado Flyer to win this race a couple of seasons ago, but that in itself was a shock result.
There is always a fear of a bounce factor with horses who win on their second run back after such a long break, but the Cheveley Park owned gelding is a high-class chaser.
He is rated as the best horse in the race and the market suggests a big performance is expected.
Given that he has relatively few miles on the clock for a nine-year-old, he has to enter calculations despite never having raced here before.
He is as happy going left handed, as right handed and provided he can improve again, looks the one that they all have to beat.
Shishkin – Nicky Henderson
A multiple Grade One winner who has until recently been as solid as a rock over fences.
The Nicky Henderson trained nine-year-old refused to race on his most recent start and that was something that he had never done in seventeen previous outings.
He has the stamina to see out this trip as proven when landing the Betfair Bowl at Aintree on his final start last season.
As this would officially be his first proper run of the year if he breaks away on level terms, and he would still likely need this run to put him spot on for the forthcoming season.
There are a few clouds hanging over him and this will be the toughest opposition that he has faced in quite some time.
There is absolutely no doubting his ability, but he may succumb to younger and fitter rivals in what looks a hard enough race.
He will no doubt improve for this run, with Cheltenham likely to be his next port of call.
The Real Whacker – Patrick Neville
A real credit to his trainer Patrick Neville and the pair became heroes when they struck at Cheltenham on three separate occasions last year.
It accumulated with a win in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase where he just about got the better of Gerri Colombe.
The seven-year-old is extremely lightly raced and looks to have questions to answer having pulled up when weakening dramatically on his seasonal reappearance at his beloved Cheltenham in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
He will need to have overcome whatever was bothering him that day and prove that he still is still competitive at the very highest level.
The Real Whacker has yet to prove that he can win on a flat track such as this, although he did go quite close at Doncaster a couple of years ago.
He still looks to have plenty to find and he may have to settle for minor honours here.
Hewick – Shark Hanlon
A globetrotting superstar who adds a little more spice into what should be a fascinating race.
He is a talented chaser that has plenty of decent wins to his name including the Oaksey Chase, the Sandown Gold Cup, the Galway Plate as well as the American Grand National.
He has had a stuttered start to the current campaign though as he finished a well beaten fourth on his seasonal reappearance at Auteuil and was then beaten a fair way out behind Ash Tree Meadow in the Galway Plate last time out.
There is no doubt that the better ground here today will suit him better than what he has faced on his last couple of appearances.
He will have no bother with the trip and three miles suits him perfectly. If he is fit enough to do himself justice, he looks likely to go well for a long way.
He may well find that there are fitter rivals that head the opposition and he may well tire in the closing stages.
Frodon – Paul Nicholls
A regular runner in this race having won it in 2020. He placed in the subsequent two renewals running with great credit on both occasions.
Although he is another year older, but he is so familiar with this track that it would be foolish to rule him out.
He comes here fully race fit having finished third to Blackjack Magic at Wincanton last time out.
He is expected to fully improve for that run and has been known to make the running in the past. Bryony Frost is his regular rider and has won three previous Grade One chases on the now eleven-year-old gelding.
He is as tough as teak and if there are question marks hanging over a few of his rivals, there are certainly no concerns in relation to him.
He is a superstar on his day but may well have to make do with a place at this time around.
Past Winners & Race Records
The leading trainer in the King George VI Chase over the last 20 renewals is Paul Nicholls.
He has won the race eleven times with those eleven winners coming from Kauto Star (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2011), Silviniaco Conti (2013 & 2014), Clan Des Obeaux (2018 & 2019), Frodon (2020) and Bravemansgame (2022).
Other trainers who have recorded multiple wins in the King George VI Chase are Nicky Henderson (3 wins) and Tom Taaffe (2 wins).
One trainer has not had the best of times in the King George VI Chase. David Pipe has sent 13 runners to the race without recording any wins.
The leading jockey in the King George VI Chase over the last 20 renewals is Harry Cobden who has won the race two times with those two winners coming from Clan Des Obeaux (2018) and Bravemansgame (2022).
The course, which has produced the most winners of the King George VI Chase, is Haydock. Ten winners of this race ran at Haydock last time out.
Looking at the winning odds over the last 20 renewals, the biggest-priced winner was Tornado Flyer in 2021, winning for W P Mullins at odds of 28/1 under the guidance of Danny Mullins.
Looking at the runners at the head of the market over the last 20 renewals there have been 10 winning favourites in the race.
Here are the King George VI Chase past winners for the last 10 renewals.
Each row details the year of the race, the horse, which won along with the age & weight of the horse.
The winning trainer as well as the winning jockey is displayed along with the starting price the horse was sent off. The race takes in and around six minutes to run.
Tips For The Race
If you’re keen and want to get a bet on then look for horses on good form and preferably those who run well on Good to soft ground.
The UK weather hasn’t been particularly bad this week but with the fierce wind drying out the ground, you need to look for a speedy chaser..
The current going is GOOD, and this is unlikely to change over the next couple of days.
A bit of experience around Kempton also helps. Even better if they’ve last run and done well at Haydock.
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