King George Vi Chase Preview: Waiting No Longer

Wednesday’s King George VI Chase has been kind to punters in recent years, with favourites winning three of the last four renewals.

King George Vi Chase Preview: Waiting No Longer

Wednesday’s King George VI Chase has been kind to punters in recent years, with favourites winning three of the last four renewals.

With 11 runners declared at the five-day stage, this year’s renewal could boast the biggest field since 2009, when Kauto Star clinched a fourth of his record-breaking tally of five wins in the race.

Might Bite
Might Bite Picture:Pat Healy Photography

The old guard set the standard on form

Two previous winners are due to take their chance this time around, including Might Bite Horseform, who was of course triumphant in this 12 months ago. Seen just four times on the racecourse last term, Might Bite got within four and a half lengths of the perfect season, denied only by Native River in one of the most compelling renewals of the Cheltenham Gold Cup for years. Stamina is ultimately the one chink in Might Bite’s armour, simply outstayed by Native River back in March, and he seemingly was in need of the run when disappointing in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month; not looking as straight as anticipated and lacking his usual flamboyance, finishing tired and last of the five runners. He therefore has something to prove here, but he was an electric winner of this race last year, and considering that he is likely to have ideal conditions here, it would be no surprise should he bounce back to his former self.

Native River
Native River Picture:Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Strictly on Timeform ratings, though, Might Bite would have 2 lb to find with his Cheltenham conqueror Native River Horseform, who also made his reappearance at Haydock last month. His run was far more pleasing, finishing second under conditions that didn’t place enough emphasis on stamina. In that respect he is the polar opposite of Might Bite, and for all that he has leading form claims, he may have to settle for a place once again, with the Gold Cup the ultimate target next March.

The new kid on the block

Waiting Patiently,
Waiting Patiently, Picture:Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The aforementioned two are part of the established elite in the staying chase division, though one who is seemingly ready to join them is Waiting Patiently Horseform, who remains unbeaten over fences after six starts. This has been the plan for him for a while, and he passed his biggest test to date to win a thrilling renewal of the Grade 1 Ascot Chase when last seen in February; putting up a top-class effort to hold off a monumental challenge from Cue Card Horseform on what proved to be that rival’s swansong and score by just under three lengths. Ruth Jefferson has maintained that he’s better fresh and he has won on the back of breaks in excess of 250 days on two occasions during his career. He is open to more improvement yet, and still only a seven-year-old, it’s likely he will become a major player in these contests for years to come.

More familiar names can have a big say

Bristol de Mai
Bristol de Mai Picture:Pat Healy Photography

Like in boxing at the moment, several of these have claims to the title of outright heavyweight in the division, and having won the Betfair Chase last month, Bristol de Mai Horseform aims to maintain his bid for the National Hunt Triple Crown by following up here. His record at Haydock Park is a remarkable one, stretching it to 4-4 last time, and he has proven to be a dominant winner on each occasion. He has been labelled as a mud lark in recent years, never quite being at the same level away from Lancashire, but his victory on good ground this time around proves he is more flexible, and he heads here a fresher horse than last year, when disappointing. Kempton’s flat track should suit him in theory, and he may be a different proposition this time around.

The other former winner is Thistlecrack, who won this as a novice in imperious fashion back in 2016. A stablemate of Native River, Thistlecrack had at one point threatened to dominate this division himself, but he has been beset with problems since winning this race, seen only twice in 2017/18 and running below his best on both occasions. He made an encouraging comeback from 11 months off when third at Haydock last time, and though he has to prove he can back that up, it’s not out of the question that he'll sharpen up all around, and shouldn't be written off here.

It has been a couple of years since Paul Nicholls has had a bona fide Grade 1 staying chaser, but he is represented by two here in the form of Politologue and Clan des Obeaux. The former found life tough whenever he bumped into Altior last term, being put in his place on two occasions, but he otherwise enjoyed a stellar year, winning two Grade 1 races in the form of the Tingle Creek at Sandown and the Melling Chase at Aintree. He made a winning reappearance in the Grade 2 1965 Chase at Ascot last time, beating Charbel by half a length; form which has been franked since. He’s bred to stay three miles (dam a sister to 3½m hurdle/chase winner Adelaide Square) and he would be an interesting contender provided the ground doesn’t become too testing. Clan des Obeaux was highly progressive last term, and put in a good effort to finish fourth in the Betfair Chase on reappearance last month. He’s still lightly raced over staying trips, and could yet improve further.

Latest Stories