The King George Chase is one of the biggest races of the jumps season, indeed it’s roll call of winners, would be superior to even the Gold Cup, and this years race looks well up to scratch. Below I preview and provide my tips for this years King George. If you want my best bets everyday, then check out my hugely successful Premium Advisory Service, which is +1,078 points, for an ROI of +24.6% since launch just over 2 years ago.
Don Cossack was a useful novice hurdler and chaser, but had started to look like he wasn’t going to be the star many predicted he would be, but it all came together for this fine big horse last season, when he won 6 of his 7 starts, with 3 of those at grade 1 level, and he was unlucky not to win all 7 races he contested, as a bad mistake put him on the back foot at Cheltenham in March, and he then lost all chance when badly hampered at the second last.
Don Cossack made up for that disappointment by hacking up over 2 and a half miles at Aintree, before proving himself the top staying chaser of last season by beating the Gold Cup 2nd and 3rd comprehensively at Punchestown, this time over 3 miles and 1 furlong. He has started this season were he left off last, with two very easy wins at Punchestown, and the grade 1 in Down Royal. He looks sure to take plenty of beating in this.
Vautour is probably the horse who will divide opinion the most in this years King George. He looked a potential star when hacking up in the JLT at last seasons Cheltenham Festival, but in a few of his other starts, most notably at Leopardstown last Christmas, he’s looked anything but. He travelled supremely well at Cheltenham, looking for all the world that he could have won the Arkle either, and you couldn’t but have doubts about whether he’d prove as effective over further than that 2 mile 4 furlong trip.
Vautour did nothing to quell those doubts when after travelling like much the best horse on his reappearance over 2 miles 5 furlongs at Ascot, he ended up being all out to beat Ptit Zig by just under 2l. He also showed a worrying tendency to jump out to his left. His trainer doesn’t seem to bothered about that, but unless he has a reason for him doing that, then I can’t see how it’s not a concern, and quite a big one at that. When a horse full of running, getting everything his own way, jumps to the left like that, the problem is almost always amplified when they come under pressure, or get tired, and with Vautour taking on much better horses than he has so far over fences, over a trip he’s never raced over, I’d have huge concerns, and even if he overcomes those, he still has to prove he’s good enough.
Cue Card was 5th in the King George in 2012, before coming 2nd in the 2013 race. He looked sure to win that day, but an overly attacking ride meant he went for home plenty soon, and he paid for that late on. He then suffered a pelvic injury and didn’t run again until the following November, but in 5 runs last season, including in this race, Cue Card failed to get back to anywhere near his best, and it looked unlikely that he would do so.
Cue Card has bounced back this season though, with wins at Wincanton, before he dismissed Silviniaco Conti with ease in the Betfair Chase. That run seemed to suggest he’s right back at his best, but I’d have my doubts. For a start there was only 5 runners, the ground was heavy, and taking easy wins literally in such circumstances often proves unwise. He may have been the only horse to run his race. He does look back to a high level though, but even at his best he wasn’t quite good enough to win this race. One thing in his favour now though, is that he settles better, so a trip that once stretched him, now seems well within his compass.
Smad Place was a very good hurdler without being top class, and he looked to be leveling out at a similar level over fences, until taking a step forward this season, winning at Kempton, before taking the Hennessy at Newbury. An attacking ride suited him that day, and he stayed the trip really well, making me question whether he’ll be as effective over this shorter trip, on a tighter track. He also needs to improve again on that form to win this.
Silviniaco Conti has won the King George for the last two seasons, but he hasn’t been in as good a form since, and this years race looks a better race in any case. He may well bounce back to his best, but if Don Cossack turns up on his A game, or Vautour steps up to the mark, that probably won’t be good enough anyway.
Valseur Lido is a decent chaser, but he’s hasn’t got one bit of form that suggests he’s good enough for this, and while Al Ferof has form that would give him a place chance, he’s now rising 11, and it’s hard to see him improve enough to win what could be a top renewal.
None of the others appeal as likely winners either, and it really is hard to see past Don Cossack. He’s turned into a professional winner, he settles well in his races, can be ridden up with the pace, or dropped in, goes right, and left handed equally effectively, and looks to have the best form as well. Smad Place should ensure Vautor doesn’t get things his own way if they decide to ride him forward, were as Don Cossack’s jockey has all options open to him, with such a flexible horse. There’s no huge value in his 9/4 price, but if I have a bet, it would certainly be on him, with maybe a place lay of Vautour as well.
2015 King George Chase Tips
3 PT Win Don Cossack at 9/4 BOG with BetVictor