King George VI Chase Betting Tips, Stats & History

The King George VI Chase is right up there with the biggest races of the National Hunt season. This Grade 1 contest was first run back in February of 1937 in honour of the newly crowned King George VI. The first couple of races were low key affairs with the race not really growing in stature until the post-war period when it was moved to Kempton Parks’ Boxing Day fixture.

The King George has since flourished and is viewed by jumps racing fans as second only to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in terms of prestige. It is always a very challenging race to win but the quality field assembled for each renewal ensures we are in for a thrilling spectacle.

Race Info

This 3m Grade 1 chase is set to run on soft ground. The prize fund sits at £250,000 with just over £142,000 set to go to the winner.

Going Distance Grade Prize Money Runners EW Terms
Soft 3m Grade 1 £250,000 6 Runners 1/4 1-2

King George VI Chase Betting Tips

Kempton, 15:05, Thursday 26th December 2019

The King George VI Chase is the sort of race that trainers will plan a whole season around for their premier chasers. Things often fail to go to plan in the world of horse racing and that’s particularly true with the King George. Its position in the schedule at Boxing Day does ensure it gets a great billing with the wider public but it does leave the race in the lap of the weather gods. The heavy rain that’s fallen in the build up to this year’s running has left the ground softer than many trainers want and subsequently we’re left with a field of just six runners.

When profiling a potential King George winner the first place to start is proven class. This is not a race for horses to start showing they can hack it at the top level as the vast majority of recent winners already had a win in a Grade 1 chase. Taking that winning form to the King George demands incredibly high class jumping and a lot of stamina even from the calibre of thoroughbred who competes for a first prize in excess of £140,000.

Incoming form is also an important factor. Horses who have not run within the five weeks leading up to the King George can pretty much be discounted as can those who fell flat on their most recent appearance. Winning form at Kempton is a nice to have for punters but by no means a necessity but an ability to cope with soft ground will be vital.

Lostintranslation - 11/4

The betting markets suggest that the 2019 King George VI Chase will come down to a head to head battle between Cyrnamen and Lostintranslation. The former is the narrow favourite with most bookmakers following his stunning victory over Altior in the Christy 1965 Chase. That was the latest of three wins in 2019 for Cyrname who is clearly a high class performer for Paul Nicholls. His position at the head of the market has weakened a little though as punters begin to have doubts about his billing as favourite against a horse of the quality of Lostintranslation.

Lostintranslation heads to Kempton on the back of a stunning success of his own. He got the best of Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase at Ascot, a performance that saw the Colin Tizzard-trained seven year old move into favouritism for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Racing fans already knew that he could be a special chaser following his performances as a novice but the Betfair Chase was his first real examination in open competition and it was one he passed with flying colours.

Tizzard and all connected to Lostintranslation are incredibly excited about his chances of becoming the first horse since Kauto Star to win the Stayers Chase Triple Crown. The first leg is in the bag, he’s favourite for the final leg at Cheltenham and could well prove to have enough about him to win the second leg at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Clan Des Obeaux – 11/2

Plenty of horses have won the King George VI Chase on more than one occasion. Indeed, previous form in this race is a good indicator of future success which is why some people are bullish about the chances of Clan Des Obeaux defending the King George after his win last year at Kempton.

If you had just watched the jockeys during last year’s run the result would have been in no doubt a long way out. Harry Cobden could hardly have been more confident that he was on the right horse 12 months ago and he was proved right emphatically. Unfortunately for Cobden, he’s been unable to guide Clan Des Obeaux to any subsequent success. He was never really a player in the Gold Cup before finishing a distant second to Kemboy in the Betway Bowl.

Racing fans have different views on the quality of Clan Dex Obeaux’s first appearance of this season. Some suggest that he was some way below his best in terms in the Champion Chase at Down Royal but others believe that it was just the sort of prep run he needed for the King George. Those in the latter camp will doubtless be rushing to back Clan Dex Obeaux at odds of 11/2.

Thistlecrack - 20/1

Thistlecrack would arguably be the most popular King George winner in the eyes of the racing public. The experienced 11 year old continues to give his all even if his legs are starting to go a little and there is an argument that his attitude and proven class give him the chance of landing a place at Kempton.

No doubt, it’s a big ask as his odds of 20/1 show. However, he finished second in last year’s running and did some very good work in his prep race, the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury. 20/1 is surely a big enough price to back Thistlecrack each way, even for those putting heart above head.

Recent Winners

2019 Clan Des Obeaux 11/2 Paul Nicholls Sam Twiston-Davies
2018 Clan Des Obeaux 12/1 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden
2017 Might Bite 6/4 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville
2016 Thistlecrack 11/10 Colin Tizzard Tom Scudamore
2015 Cue Card 9/2 Colin Tizzard Paddy Brennan
2014 Silviniaco Conti 15/8 Paul Nicholls Noel Fehily
2013 Silviniaco Conti 7/2 Paul Nicholls Noel Fehily
2012 Long Run 15/8 Nicky Henderson Sam Waley-Cohen
2011 Kauto Star 3/1 Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh
2010* Long Run 9/2 Nicky Henderson Sam Waley-Cohen

*2010 race took place on the 15/01/2011 after the meeting was abandoned.

About the King George VI Chase: A Boxing Day Belter

king george vi chase

There aren’t too many races over the course of the season that even the average non-racing fan is not at least dimly aware. We of course have the Grand National at Aintree, the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, and the Epsom Derby on the flat, but not far behind these is the annual Christmastime chasing spectacular that is Kempton Park’s King George VI Chase. Held on Boxing Day each year, and televised since back in 1949, this remains one of the real landmark sporting events of the calendar year.

The jewel in the crown of Kempton’s two-day Winter Festival which takes place on the 26th and 27th December each year, this top tier Grade 1 contest, open to all runners aged four and older, is a headline act fit to grace any stage, and a race rich in both history and racing legend.

Royal Beginnings

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Disembarking HMS Bicester in 1942
Royal Navy official photographer, Tomlin, H W (Lt), Wikimedia Commons

Coronated in December 1936, the renowned National Hunt fan King George VI soon had a race named in his honour, with the inaugural edition of this contest taking place in February 1937.

The first ever winner, Southern Halo, set an early benchmark for the oldest winner of the race when coming home in front at the grand old age of 12. As of 2017, this record remains unequalled.

The event’s initial run was soon interrupted by the onset of the Second World War in 1939 though, during which time Kempton racecourse served the rather less entertaining function of being utilised as a prisoner of war camp.

Bouncing Back On Boxing Day

The race was back with a bang in 1947 though, with Fulke Walwyn steering Rowland Boy to victory in the first ever edition of the race to be held on its now customary date of Boxing Day, and Kempton has been serving up this late Christmas present ever since.

Well, almost ever since. The race has been lost to the wintery elements four times, and foot and mouth once over the years. The only two editions to ever take place away from came in 1996 and 2005 when nearby Sandown Park stepped up to the plate to host this most famous of races.

List of Abandoned King George VI Chases at Kempton

Year(s)Reason for AbandonmentDetails
2010 Snow & Frost Race took place 15th Jan 2011 at Kempton
2005 Redevelopment Race took place 26th Dec 2005 at Sandown
1995 Snow & Frost Race took place 6th Jan 1996 at Sandown
1981 Snow & Frost Races were not rescheduled
1970 Snow
1968 Frost
1967 Foot-and-mouth outbreak
1962 Frost
1961 Frost
1939 - 1946 World War II

Not Too Young and Not Too Old The Recipe For Success

Whilst it may be open to chasers aged four and older, it is relatively unusual for such youthful horses to contest the race, and even rarer to see one come home in front. So rare in fact that as of 2019 no four year old had ever claimed the trophy. Indeed, up to and including the 2019 edition of the King George VI, the five year old winner of the 1950 edition, Manicou, was the only runner younger than six to prevail.

Looking a little closer at the age trend, the graph below gives a full breakdown of the age of the winners up to and including the 2019 race. It would appear that the seven to nine age bracket is the golden window of opportunity for the top chasers in the game to get their noses in front here.

Chart Showing the Age of King George VI Chase Winning Horses Between 1937 and 2019

Look To The Past To Predict The Future

The 1950s saw the first dual winner of the race. Named Halloween, it may have been expected that this Fred Winter-trained runner might have been in his prime at the back end of October, but it turns out Halloween rather liked it on Boxing Day, returning in 1954 to reclaim the crown he first won in 1952.

The next dual winner followed soon after, with viewers finishing off the last of the chocolate oranges in 1957 and 1959 witnessing the Fulke Walwyn ridden, Mandarin, coming home in front.

This has in fact been an excellent race for previous winners overall as the table below shows. Years shown in bold signify King George VI Chase victories in successive races, with Clan Des Obeaux the latest to do this with wins in 2018 and 2019.

List Multiple King George VI Chase Winning Horses

HorseTrainerYears Won
Kauto Star Paul Nicholls 2006 2007 2008 2009 2011
Desert Orchid David Elsworth 1986 1988 1989 1990  
Wayward Lad M & M Dickinson 1982 1983 1985    
Clan Des Obeaux Paul Nicholls 2018 2019      
Silviniaco Conti Paul Nicholls 2013 2014      
Long Run Nicky Henderson 2010 2012      
Kicking King Tom Taaffe 2004 2005      
See More Business Paul Nicholls 1997 1998      
One Man Gordon W. Richards 1995 1996      
The Fellow Francois Doumen 1991 1992      
Silver Buck T & M Dickinson 1979 1980      
Captain Christy Pat Taaffe 1974 1975      
Pendil Fred Winter 1972 1973      
Mandarin Fulke Walwyn 1957 1959      
Halloween Bill Wightman 1952 1954      

Of the 69 renewals run up to 2019, no fewer than 21 had been landed by a previous winner of the race. That’s over 30% and is most certainly a stat worth bearing in mind when weighing up future editions.

All Time Greats Take To The Stage

In any other decade, 1963 winner, Mill House, would likely have been the dominant chaser of his generation. Unfortunately for Mill House he was around at the same time as many experts’ idea of the greatest racehorse of all time, Arkle. Arkle himself claimed this title just the once, in 1965 when he was an eight year old.

Wayward Lad (1982 to 1985)

The early eighties belonged to the Michael Dickinson-trained Wayward Lad who claimed King George gold in 1982,1983 and 1985, becoming the first ever three-time winner of the race. By 1990 though that record hand not only been equalled but overtaken.

Desert Orchid (1986 to 1990)

Step forward everyone’s favourite grey, Desert Orchid. This true legend of the chasing game was crowned the king of Kempton four times between 1986 and 1990, creating some of the most unforgettable moments in the sport, and going some way to boosting the popularity of the event still further.

Kauto Star (2006 to 2011)

All records are made to be broken though, and even good old Dessie’s couldn’t last forever. Could a horse really claim this prize on five separate occasions?

Yes they could. And that horse went by the name of Kauto Star. Successful four times in succession between 2006 and 2009, the majestic Paul Nicholls star was dethroned by Long Run in the 2010 edition before producing a jaw-dropping display to conquer that rival in 2011. Truly the stuff of which racing legends are made, and a just a part of what made Kauto so popular with the racing public. A horse who won’t soon be forgotten.

A Million Reasons To Win This One

As if the value and prestige of winning this race wasn’t already rewarding enough, the Jockey Club upped the ante still further in 2015, when including the King George in its £1million bonus scheme. Land this prize in addition to the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the Cheltenham Gold Cup and connections will find a cool million winging its way into their bank accounts.

Stayers' Triple Crown Races: The Betfair Million

LegRaceCourseMonth Run
1 Betfair Chase Haydock November
2 King George VI Chase Kempton December
3 Gold Cup Cheltenham March

With the backing of such history and modern incentives like this, one of the greatest shows on turf can surely only continue to go from strength to strength! Who cares about presents on Christmas Day when we have the King George on Boxing Day?!

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