King George VI Chase Preview 2019
By Samantha (@sam_angelina22)
The King George VI Chase has captured the minds and hearts of the racing public for generations.
Families cosy up in front of the TV, after eating Christmas dinner leftovers and whilst nibbling at various assortments of sweet delights, to watch the likes of Arkle, Wayward Lad, Desert Orchid, One Man, Best Mate, Kauto Star and more recently Silviniaco Conti and Cue Card storm to victory along the famous Kempton straight.
This year, six horses take their chances to win this elusive prize and stamp their names into the history books. To me, this appears a ‘changing of the guard kind of race. Three up and coming seven year olds go against three more exposed runners. There’s no Might Bite, Native River or Tea For Two (retired) this season. The runners are…
• Aso (Charlie Deutsch and Venetia Williams)
• Clan Des Obeaux (Sam Twiston-Davies and Paul Nicholls)
• Cyrname (Harry Cobden and Paul Nicholls)
• Footpad (Barry Geraghty and Willie Mullins)
• Lostintranslation (Robbie Power and Colin Tizzard)
• Thistlecrack (Tom Scudamore and Colin Tizzard)
One jockey who will have had a headache in the lead up to Christmas is Harry Cobden. Paul Nicholls’ stable jockey had the tough decision to pick between Cyrname and Clan Des Obeaux. It is not a bad conundrum to have – Cyrname is the highest rated chaser in the country and Cobden partnered Clan Des Obeaux to win the race twelve months ago. Cyrname has been decided as the mount of Cobden – much to the disgust of ITV’s Matt Chapman. Controversy in the media was inevitable – if he’d picked Clan Des Obeaux, people would’ve said he was silly not to have picked the highest rated chaser and various people are still doubting the ability of Cyrname.
Last month, we were lucky enough to witness the clash discussed to great length over the summer in the Christy Chase. Cyrname Vs Altior. Altior was looking for his twentieth straight victory and Cyrname was the ‘new kid on the block’ after cruising to a seventeen length domination in the grade one Ascot Chase that previous season. Cyrname made all, with Harry Cobden giving him a peach of a ride. He kept Altior close, jumping boldly in front, before turning the screw and lengthening away from his multiple grade one winning opponent over the two miles five trip. He ran on readily and it appeared to me as if he could stay the three mile trip of this prestigious grade one. He enjoys going right handed and I’d assume connections will have him pop out in front and see if he can keep going.
The Christy Chase was an incredible edge-of-your-seat clash and it was very game of both sets of connections to run them against each other so early in the season. However, there would have been another layer to the King George if they’d waited until this race for their duel. It is a bit disappointing as now it means that Altior will not take part in this. The reason was that he hadn’t schooled well enough but, not to fear, he is set to run in the Desert Orchid Chase on Friday.
Sam Twiston-Davies picks up a brilliant spare ride on Clan Des Obeaux, a horse who he has won on twice before. He rode Politologue last season when Clan Des Obeaux won at 12/1, in which he beat Thistlecrack. After that, victory, he won the grade two Denman Chase and then came fifth in the Gold Cup. He didn’t make much of an impression, coming second to Kemboy at Aintree on the final start of his campaign. Despite recent issues with his ownership, Kemboy has an entry in the Savills Chase on Saturday. At this time of the year, we don’t get many Irish runners in these races as there is some brilliant racing on offer at Leopardstown. Clan Des Obeaux ran at Down Royal on reappearance in a grade one but only came second to Road To Respect. I’d like to have seen the Gigginstown-owned gelding run in this race as I think a lot of him. Clan Des Obeaux needed that run and, after leaving the position of first jockey to Paul Nicholls, Sam Twiston-Davies has been riding out of his skin.
However, we do have one Irish runner in the race – Footpad. This gelding comes over from the Willie Mullins yard. He burst onto the scene when winning a juvenile grade one and then coming third in the Triumph. He won twice over that summer at Auteuil but, like a lot of horses who gave had a successful juvenile campaign, he lost his way until he went chasing. In the 2017/2018 season, he went unbeaten for all of his five starts. As part of that winning run, he passed the post first in the Racing Post Novices Chase (G1), Irish Arkle (G1), Cheltenham Arkle (G1) and the Ryanair Novices Chase at Punchestown. However, last season, he fell, when 4/9, in a grade three and was second to Simply Ned in a grade one. He stepped up to two miles four in the Ryanair but could only manage eighth. This season, connections gave him an easy, confidence-boosting task to begin his campaign. They used the Boomerang Chase (Listed) at Thurles and he won it easily. That was over two miles six, the longest trip he’s ever faced. He probably has more speed than some of these and he jumps well normally but, for me, he is on a retrieval mission. Barry Geraghty takes over the reins from injured Daryl Jacob.
The second horse two have won this race before is Thistlecrack. This horse went unbeaten from the 28th of November 2015 until his winning run in this in December 2016, as a novice. Next time out, he battled out a finish with Many Clouds, who passed away after the race, but was second. After that, in comparison to previous form, he has lost his way. In 2017, he came fourth in this race; during the next season, he was third in the Betfair and second in this to Clan Des Obeaux and then he pulled up in the Gold Cup. Last time, he was staying on to only be denied a length by ultra-talented Paisley Park, over hurdles. That day, it appeared to be as if he has his spark back. He’s the oldest of the runners aged eleven and connections have said that he schooled well. He always travels so powerfully but occasionally puts in big, slow jumps which waste time. Connections could’ve ran him in last weekend’s Long Walk Hurdle, which cut up dramatically on the day, and he’d have probably won that as Paisley Park was a non-runner. They must think he’s still as good a chaser or they wouldn’t have ran him.
Colin Tizzard also trains the up-and-coming superstar Lostintranslation. This Fleminsfirth seven year old was a decent hurdler, following in the likes of Dynamite Dollars, First Flow, Summerville Boy in the Supreme and Black Op in the Mersey Novices. On his first two chase starts, he was second to La Bague Au Roi and then third to the aforementioned mare, who was in this race until the final stage, and Talkischeap. In January, he finally got off the mark over fences, beating Defi Du Seuil, over two miles four. Then, they contended the Scilly Isles and Defi came out on top. Lostintranslation couldn’t handle the pace of this horse. The same happened at the Cheltenham Festival in the JLT. Lostintranslation seized the opportunity at Ian Tree, with no Defi Du Seuil in sight, and won the Mildmay Novices Chase, fully relishing the step to three miles. Subsequently, Defi Du Seuil has been dropped back to two miles and has won the Shloer Chase and the Tingle Creek. Lostintranslation just didn’t have the speed to keep up with him when push came to shove over the shorter trip but he is most definitely more comfortable at three miles. He kicked off his season with an oh-so-easy win at Carlisle, jumping incredibly, and then he ran in the Betfair Chase. Four runners (him, Bristol De Mai, Ballyoptic and Frodon) took their chances. Robbie Power held him up and rode him Patiently until threep out when he jumped up to challenge Bristol De Mai. Power shook him up and he led from the last onwards, staying on well, and foiling Bristol De Mai’s gallant bid at a third win in that race.
The Betfair Chase is the first leg of the Triple Crown and there have been whispers of this horse following in the footsteps of Kauto Star and by winning the King George and the Gold Cup too. If he was go win this, those whispers would become shouts. If I was riding him, I would sit just behind Cyrname, who will pop out and make the running, and wait until you see the warning from Cyrname because Lostintranslation has something we are unsure that Cyrname has – the ability to stay. Lostintranslation has never ran at Kempton before but he has ran twice on a right-handed track, once at Sandown (2nd) and once at Carlisle (1st). Kempton is quite a flat track but he’s won around Aintree which is also flat.
The last horse to mention is Aso, who will be the outsider of the party. It has been recent that Aso has burst into this grade. He won a handicap after a 397 day break last November and, next time out, he won a handicap chase at Cheltenham, beating subsequent Bet Victor Gold Cup winner Happy Diva. After that, he was sixth, beaten 29 lengths by Cyrname in the grade one Ascot Chase. At the Cheltenham Festival, he was a gutsy second to Frodon in the Ryanair, finishing ahead of Road To Respect, who beat Clan Des Obeaux last time. On seasonal reappearance, he came third to Ballyoptic in the Charlie Hall and then he ran in the Peterborough Chase, finishing fifth. That was a really below par run and the trainer Venetia Williams has said that he does have off days. Her yard is in excellent form – they have had nine winners form her last fifteen runners (60%). I have a small feeling that this horse could run well but he has a lot to find on the strength of his recent form.
Surrounding Cyrname lately has been the talk of his official rating. The handicapper put him as the highest rated chaser in the country, which fuelled the Cyrname/Altior clash, alat season and it is now the horses opportunity to show whether he is worthy of his title. If this race was ran on official ratings, the result would be this…
• 1st Cyrname (177)
• 2nd Lostintranslation (173)
• 3rd Clan Des Obeaux (169)
• 4th Thistlecrack (167)
• 5th Aso (166)
• 6th Footpad (165)
Lostintranslation shot up 12lbs for his victory at Haydock and Cyrname was raised 1lbs for his domination of Altior. Thistlecrack got a mark of 171 after his King George victory three years ago and Clan Des Obeaux got 173. Aso is on a career high mark and Footpad peaked at 166.
However, my choice in this race is LOSTINTRANSLATION. He has everything going for him – he’s a bold scopey horse who looks like his very purpose on this earth was to jump a fence. He is trained by a maestro in Colin Tizzard and ridden by one of the greats Robbie Power. Cyrname is my second choice but I don’t think he will last home against my selection. Thistlecrack will come cruising at the home turn and run a big race.
Kepp an eye out on my twitter page (@sam_angelina22) on Boxing Day for my selections for the full Kempton card, including a big price selection for the Christmas Hurdle.