We’ve got a runner-by-runner guide to the King George VI Chase 2020 entries and our top tip to prevail in Kempton’s Boxing Day spectacular.
Some of National Hunt racing’s greatest performers have claimed this prestigious prize, with Kauto Star incredibly coming out on top on five occasions.
Flying grey Desert Orchid enjoyed four fantastic triumphs, while Wayward Lad was a three-time winner in the 1980s.
Here are our views on this year’s contenders:
BLACK OP @ 100/1
Finished a solid second behind Slate House when favourite for the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on this card 12 months ago but has found life tough since stepping up to open company this term.
CLAN DES OBEAUX @ 2/1
Bids to complete a hat-trick of King George victories and give trainer Paul Nicholls his 12th success in the race.
Kept on well to beat Thistlecrack in 2018 and slammed stablemate Cyrname by a wide margin last year, so this set-up clearly suits.
Nicholls commented: “Clan is the defending champ, he’s won two and you do get horses winning multiple King Georges.”
Reflecting on an encouraging second to course specialist Bristol De Mai on his Haydock reintro, the trainer added: “He was fit going there, he recovered quickly and he’s in good form…he’s ready to go.”
CYRNAME @ 9/4
Has 21 lengths to make up on Clan Des Obeaux from 12 months ago, when finishing a tired horse, but looked back to his best in making an impressive start to the current campaign in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
Nicholls said: “Cyrname has a good record around Kempton and is in a completely different place compared to last year.
“Harry (Cobden) schooled him this week and had a big smile on his face. His prep has been good and you’ll see a different horse preparation-wise to what we had last year.
“People always ask me what I think and I tell the truth, I don’t think there’s anything between Clan and Cyrname, so it will be very interesting.”
FRODON @ 25/1
One of the best jumpers in training and has struck up a great partnership with Bryony Frost, but past form suggests he is just below elite level and is the least fancied of four entries from the Nicholls yard.
LOSTINTRANSLATION @ 7/1
The Colin Tizzard-trained eight-year-old was a fine third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup but failed to fire in last year’s King George and again has something to prove after finishing a well-beaten third at Haydock last month.
REAL STEEL @ 14/1
Completes the quartet of Nicholls runners and should strip fitter for last month’s Ascot third on his first start for the Ditcheat handler.
Previously claimed six wins for Willie Mullins in Ireland, including a couple of emphatic Grade 2 victories at Down Royal and Thurles, so could be a dark horse for each-way punters to consider in the King George odds.
SAINT CALVADOS @ 18/1
Would be regarded as a lively outsider if recapturing the sparkle of his close second to Min in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival but stepping up to three miles for the first time after nine months off is a tough task.
SANTINI @ 11/2
The Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up was a surprise addition to the race after being supplemented on Monday and should strip fitter for a recent Aintree second.
However, he did find this track too sharp when a beaten favourite in the 2018 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and that will be a concern again after noticeably hitting a flat spot in some of his races.
Nicky Henderson said: “We didn’t put him in originally because I’m the first to admit we don’t think Kempton will be his ideal track – but he’s very well in himself and there’s nothing else to do when you are in lockdown Tier 4.”
WAITING PATIENTLY @ 14/1
Ruth Jefferson’s long-absent stable star has always had a touch of class but winning this on his first outing for 385 days would be some feat.
“You can make a case for and against him getting the trip,” admitted Jefferson. “He’d be the first horse in his family to stay three miles…but he does settle well and he won’t over-race.
“To be honest, we don’t know. He’s definitely still got his ability, he hasn’t slowed down.
“All I really want is a clear round, then we’ll know if he stays or if he’s good enough. Two years ago he was nearly favourite, now we’re forgotten about.”
VERDICT: The percentage pick would probably be to go for Clan Des Obeaux due to his previous exploits in this race, but CYRNAME has looked like a monster on his best days, notably when thrashing Waiting Patiently by 17 lengths at Ascot and in beating Altior at that track. If he turns up in the same mood here, the eight-year-old is expected to edge out his stablemate this time.
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