King George VI Chase Boxing Day Preview : Nicholls to continue King George dominance
King George VI Chase Boxing Day Preview
The King George VI Chase is one of the highlights of the racing calendar. On a day that is dominated by sport, this race still manages to somehow stand above everything else taking place and sits at the top of the tree as far as the day's horse racing goes. With TV coverage live on the ITV main channel, a big audience are sure to tune in and many will watch this race as part of their festive traditions.
We have a confirmed field of six runners for the race, which will take place at 3:05pm on Boxing Day.
Paul Nicholls saddles two in the race, last year's winner Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname who is the big hope for many people, stepping up in trip to tackle three miles here. Betfair Chase winner and current Gold Cup favourite Lostintranslation is the main hope for trainer Colin Tizzard, who also saddles two in the race with 2016 winner and 2018 second Thistlecrack being his other runner. Footpad comes across the Irish Sea to challenge for leading Irish trainer Willie Mullins while the field is rounded off by Aso for the Venetia Williams team.
Back in 2018, we saw a magnificent performance from Clan Des Obeaux, beating off Thistlecrack to win the race, will we see something similar from him or someone else this season? There isn't much to choose between the leading contenders in what looks sure to be a thrilling renewal of this race.
Clan Des Obeaux the Pick to Land Back to Back Titles
We've got a mixture of horses stepping up in trip to try three miles and those who need a little further or a stiffer track coming back to try and win this. Of the runners though, there is one that is suited by this race, the distance and the track. That is the 2018 winner Clan Des Obeaux, who comes here looking to retain his title. He ran in the 2019 Gold Cup and didn't quite stay the trip, but this three miles on a flat track is the optimum for him. He has an incredibly high cruising speed, something we saw to great effect last season when he cruised into the race and was still on the bridle alongside Thistlecrack while that horse was hard at work.
This is a very quick track, you have to jump around well and stay on the bridle, something this horse has shown us time and time again.
He will be ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies this season, as stable jockey to Paul Nicholls, Harry Cobden, has chosen to ride his other horse in the race, Cyrname. This is a horse that has really impressed at two miles and two and a half miles in the past, and is officially rated the best chaser in the world. He came back and won at Ascot, ending the winning streak of Altior, and that looked to be a perfect preparation run for this race. One thing he does have to prove is his stamina though, which is not guaranteed.
I can understand why Harry Cobden has chosen to ride him, because he has a fantastic chance of winning if he stays the trip. I'm not so sure he will though, which is why I favour Clan Des Obeaux over him.
Of the Colin Tizzard runners, Lostintranslation is the main challenger, and he comes here after winnning the Betfair Chase at Haydock. However, he looks like a horse that needs a real test of stamina, and tailor made for the Gold Cup in March. While he may be the best horse in this race, and he may be a future Gold Cup winner, I don't think he is a King George VI Chase winner. If he does win this then get ready for his Gold Cup price to plummet as he would be beating his rivals in a race that doesn't suit his strengths. It is also worth remembering that a win here would put him in line to win the £1 million Betfair Bonus if he went on to win the Gold Cup.
Thistlecrack is the other runner for Colin Tizzard, a winner of this race in 2016, second in 2018 and he comes here on the back of a very good comeback run where he pushed Paisley Park all the way over hurdles. He could cause a surprise, but it would probably be seen as a poor renewal if he was able to get his head in front. The same can probably be said about Footpad and Aso winning too, if they are good enough to win this then it will be because others have disappointed.
With that in mind, for me, last year's winner Clan Des Obeaux is the one to be with, this is his big target for the season, and the trip and track suit him perfectly.