- Six horses have been declared for the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park
- Allaho takes on previous winners Bravemansgame and Frodon on Boxing Day
- Trainer Nicky Henderson is adamant Shishkin will deliver a performance
Six horses have been declared for the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
Allaho takes on previous winners Bravemansgame and Frodon in the its 73rd renewal since its inception in 1937.
Trainer Nicky Henderson is adamant Shishkin will deliver a performance to reflect his outstanding ability.
Paul Nicholls has won it four times in the last five years with Clan Des Obeaux, Frodon and Bravemansgame.
Mail Sport’s Marcus Townend has the lowdown on the six contenders.
Allaho returned from a year and a half absence to claim an impressive win last month
Big-striding gelding who looks imperious in full flight. Returned from a year and a half absence to beat a quality rival in Janadil in the Clonmel Oil Chase (2m 4f) last month. That should have got rid of the ring rust. An impressive dual winner of the Ryanair Chase (2m 4 1/2f) at the Cheltenham Festival, he proved himself at this longer distance when winning the 2022 Punchestown Gold Cup. Less question marks about him than some of his rivals. If he gets it right he may be hard to peg back.
The big positives are that he is two from two over the course and distance, winning this race last year and the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase in 2021, and his trainer Paul Nicholls has won the race a record 13 times. But the gelding who finished second to Galopin Des Champs in the 2023 Cheltenham Gold Cup has not won in four runs since last year’s race and his two starts this season, including his 2nd to Royal Pagaille in Haydock’s Betfair Chase have been a touch below what he achieved last season.
The popular 2020 winner who was 4th in 2021 and 3rd last season (beaten over 18 lengths by Bravemansgame) is at his best on this flat left-handed course and will no doubt lead the field out under Bryony Frost who will try to get her old ally into a front-foot rhythm. That track affinity makes him impossible to completely write off and gives him a chance of nicking a place. But, in reality, it is hard to see a gelding who has won only one of his last 10 races winning.
Paul Nicholls has won the race 13 times but Bravemansgame has not won in his last four runs
Bargain buy whose rags-to-riches story has captured the imagination. What he has achieved means he is no longer is underestimated. He was still in there pitching, although looking at the end of his tether, when falling two out in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. That was on softer ground than he’d prefer so this quicker surface significantly improves his chance. A place in the first three is eminently achievable for good eachway option.
It is a worry which Shishkin will turn up and will he even start after his antics at Ascot last month but on pure raw ability the dual Cheltenham Festival winner is arguably the best in the line. His only run at a distance like this was when he stayed on resolutely to beat Ahoy Senor in the Aintree Bowl (3m 1f) in April. This course – he’s three from three at the track – and distance look made for him but niggling at the back of your mind is will he put in one of his scratchy jumping efforts and is he still completely in love with the game.
THE REAL WHACKER
A revelation as a novice last season with exuberant jumping a feature of his three wins at Cheltenham culminating in his short-head defeat of Gerri Colombe in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Festival. Can’t be dismissed because of his below par