32Red King George VI Chase
|Grade 1, Kempton Park
3m, Class 1
|Monday 26th December 2016|
Silviniaco Conti is to skip this year's race, according to Paul Nicholls
Owner Rich Ricci has admitted the death of Vautour could see Douvan take a different route this season.
Douvan is unbeaten since joining Willie Mullins and has won at the last two Cheltenham Festivals.
He has yet to run over further than two miles and a furlong, but has been entered in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day - a race in which Vautour finished second last year - and could now be asked to step up in trip.
"I would say that before any of this happened (the death of Vautour) this weekend, we would have said we'd stay over two miles this year and maybe step him (Douvan) up in trip next year," Ricci told At The Races.
"We will have to see. He would need a run before he goes and does that. He's only a second-season novice so it's a big ask.
"I think clearly he's a Champion Chase contender and we'll have to see how the season pans out.
"But I would say right now we will stick to two miles and maybe step up in trip for something like the King George, but the Cheltenham target would most likely be the Champion Chase."
The Jockey Club will once again be offering a £1m bonus this season to any horse which completes the Triple Crown of the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November, Boxing Day’s King George VI Chase at Kempton and then the Cheltenham Gold Cup at March’s Festival.
None more so than the last National Hunt season when Cue Card completed the first two legs of the double before falling three out in the Gold Cup when bang in contention.
He is 33/1 with Ladbrokes to win the Jumps Triple Crown this term, but the fact that but the fact that Colin Tizzard’s stable star will be an 11-year-old by the time Cheltenham comes around is a big negative to his chances. No horse older than 10 has landed the Gold Cup spoils since 1969.
The price is 20/1 that any horse wins the unique treble, following in the footsteps of Kauto Star a decade ago.
And if there is a horse best positioned to do it this season then it is a young back that has plenty in common with a young Kauto Star.
Despite ending that season with a cosy success over 2m4f at Aintree, it still seemed more of an experiment when Paul Nicholls sent him to the Betfair Chase over 3m to kick off the following campaign.
Victory followed at Haydock and then another arrived in the King George, although a runaway win in the Tingle Creek over 2m in between suggested that Nicholls still wasn’t sure as to the best Cheltenham target – a chance at redemption in the Champion Chase or the stamina test of the Gold Cup.
Nicholls opted for the latter and Kauto Star delivered in a helpful steadily-run race.
Away from Cue Card and Douvan, Thistlecrack is another contender as he is sure to step up to the larger obstacles after dominating the staying hurdling division last term. Although the fact he is yet to jump a fence in public means that running him in the Betfair Chase will represent a degree of risk.
William Hill King George VI Chase 2015
£200,000 added, 4yo plus, 3m, Class 1
Going: Good to Soft, Soft in Places
|Pos||Dist||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Cue Card 9/2||P J Brennan
|C L Tizzard||9|
|2nd||hd||Vautour (FR) 3/1||R Walsh
|W P Mullins||6|
|3rd||13||Al Ferof (FR) 16/1||Harry Skelton
|4th||3¼||Smad Place (FR) 8/1||Wayne Hutchinson
|5th||23||Irish Cavalier (IRE) 40/1||B J Geraghty
|Miss R Curtis||6|
|PU||Ballynagour (IRE) 66/1||T Scudamore
|PU||Silviniaco Conti (FR) 9/1||N D Fehily
|P F Nicholls||9|
|F||Don Cossack (GER) 15/8f||B J Cooper
|F||Valseur Lido (FR) 25/1||J Ricou
|W P Mullins||6|