Fontwell Park, of course, is among tracks hosting big meetings today but even there, all eyes will be on the famous King George VI Chase at Kempton Park.
There are 11 meetings taking place across Britain and Ireland. The three-mile King George VI Chase is the feature of the festive period and has been won by some of the sport’s iconic stars including Arkle, Wayward Lad, Desert Orchid and Kauto Star. Nine runners go to post for this year’s running which includes past winners Clan Des Obeaux and Frodon along with Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Minella Indo.
We have previewed the contest with our runner by runner guide as we bid to point you in the direction of the winner in one of the season’s biggest events. Check horse racing betting for the latest odds across the Christmas period.
The going at Kempton today is good to soft, soft in places.
Asterion Forlonge Trainer: Willie Mullins
A leading player for Willie Mullins who won this race back in 2001 with Florida Pearl. The seven-year-old was travelling with menace when falling at the third-last in the John Durkan Memorial and that effort hinted at the raw ability he possesses. He clearly has to run right-handed, but despite his idiosyncrasies, there is a massive engine under the bonnet and he looks sure to give a bold front-running account of himself in this event.
Chantry House Trainer: Nicky Henderson
A winner at the Cheltenham Festival this year, he returned to action with a smooth victory at Sandown, but this is his toughest test to date, in which his jumping is going to be given a stern examination. This race could be run to suit if they go hard up front, but this is his first run in open company against seasoned graded chasers and whilst he remains an exciting prospect going forward, this might be one big step too soon.
Clan Des Obeaux Trainer: Paul Nicholls
His CV speaks for itself, given he is a dual winner of this event. Both victories have come in facile fashion and Kempton’s flat track clearly plays to his strengths. Third last year, he came into the race on the back of a gruelling second in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and has instead been kept fresh by his master trainer. He has plenty going for him, but this is a contest full of classy prospects and he may find one or two that prove too strong.
Frodon Trainer: Paul Nicholls
A National Hunt racing icon. Along with rider Bryony Frost, the pair have won a Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and come into this race as the defending champions following their historic victory last year. However, Frodon got the run of the race on that occasion and the same is not expected to happen this time around with other front-runners in this year’s race. His greatest asset is his jumping, as shown by a gutsy victory at Downroyal on his reappearance and he looks sure to give his true running once again. However, this year’s contest has much more quality to it and with concerns about the Nickname gelding being taken on for the lead, he is opposable this year.
Lostintranslation Trainer: Colin Tizzard
A really classy customer on his day who has a Betfair Chase win to his name. He was strongly fancied to win the 2019 running of the King George VI Chase, but things failed to go right as he burst a blood vessel in the race. However, he bounced back to form in good style when scoring at Ascot on his reappearance and whilst there are physical concerns about bursting a blood vessel again, he is a serious player on the pick of his form.
Minella Indo Trainer: Henry De Bromhead
The Cheltenham Gold Cup hero chases another of Jump Racing’s biggest prizes with success in the King George. He was a sparkling winner of the Blue Riband event at Prestbury Park in March and crucially he still remains open to stacks of improvement. He ran a race full of promise on his comeback when third at Downroyal to Frodon in which he looked to need the run physically and he will have been primed for this event. There are some concerns about whether he will relish the flat track at Kempton, but that shouldn’t be a major issue and he makes plenty of appeal as the most likely winner.
Mister Fisher Trainer: Nicky Henderson
Second to stable companion Chantry House at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, he remains open to more progression but this is a tough ask on his seasonal reappearance.
Saint Calvados Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Makes his first start for Paul Nicholls and is an each-way possible given he is best caught fresh. He really caught the eye in the 2020 running where he travelled strongly into the contest, but just tired in the closing stages, paying for being keen in the early part of the race. However, he looks sure to be ridden with more restraint this time around and he looks a very interesting runner.
Tornado Flyer Trainer: Willie Mullins
Fifth on his return in the John Durkan Memorial at Punchestown this will demand a career best and he looks best watched in this event.
Verdict: Plenty in with a chance in this year’s running. Dual winner Clan Des Obeaux and defending champion Frodon both look sure to go well along with stable companion Saint Calvados who makes appeal at the odds. However, this price can go back to Ireland. Asterion Forlonge looks a real danger if navigating a clear round, but Minella Indo is undoubtedly the class horse in the race who is still improving. Whilst this track may not play to all of his strengths, he still has a high cruising speed and has the talent to win the Festive highlight.
1 Minella Indo 2 Asterion Forlonge 3 Saint Calvados – 18+ please gamble responsibly