The King George has a history of multiple winners. Back in the 80’s Wayward Lad won it 3 times, while Desert Orchid then took over winning four of the running’s from 1986 to 1990, with Nupsala breaking his winning sequence in 1987. The Fellow then won it twice, before One Man also recorded two victories, and See More Business was another who notched more than one win in the race in the 90’s. Little has changed since the start of this century, with Kicking King winning two King Georges, the great Kauto Star winning the race five times, while this years contestant, and last years winner Long Run has two to his name.
Cue Card heads the market after a convincing victory in the Betfair Chase. That was a good race, and is the best recent form on offer, so a reproduction would see him go very close. There are reasons for thinking he’ll be doing well to reproduce that level of form however. For one I doubted his stamina for the 3 miles 1 furlong that day, and while the result, in what appeared a reasonable well run affair, seemed to put such doubts to bed, Timeform have openly questioned whether the race was run over the correct distance since then. The time was officially 13.2 seconds faster than the previous years running, despite the 2012 running being over a bare 3 miles. Timeform also suggested the ground was faster than the official soft in this years race though, so that would account for some of the discrepancy, and the 2012 race was very slowly run with Ruby Walsh riding Sam Waley Cohen to sleep in front.
I wouldn’t trust many clerks with going or distance assessments but all told it’s likely the race was over at least 3 miles, which is the distance of the King George. The ground though was probably more like good to soft at Haydock, and it could well be heavy at Kempton. That could turn the race into a right slog, and surely Cue Card doesn’t want that.
Another factor against him is his 3 stand out runs in his career have all come left handed. Maybe it was just opportunity, but in his last 3 runs right handed he disappointed in 2 of them. Yes he won at Exeter at the start of last season, but on his subsequent form he was different class to the horses he beat, this season on simplistic weights and measures he put up a good display at Exeter off a mark of 172, but as I’ve said before the official handicap system has flaws most 10 year old’s could spot, and to beat horses you’re rated 20lb better than, you normally wouldn’t even need to run to your mark, as it would take on average about 30lb to level up the difference in abilities. You could argue that Cue Card’s disappointing run in last years race was more to do with his first fence blunder, plus he took a hold due to being more restrained than normal. That is possible, but overall I think there’s enough doubts about him running to his best, to take him on at just 10/3.
I also had doubts about Dynaste fully staying 3 miles 1 furlong before the Haydock race, and despite his very good run there, and winning over 3 miles 1 furlong at Aintree last year, I would think that in the conditions he will meet on Thursday, he would be better over a little shorter. He travel’s really well in his races, but still didn’t have enough left late on at Haydock to really challenge Cue Card. I can’t see how the much softer ground is going to help him do that. He is still progressive though and has to have a chance, but with the race likely to be well run, I think a greater test of speed would suit him, and while I would have thought 10/3 was a good price on good to soft, I wouldn’t be backing him at that on possible heavy ground.
Al Ferof came back from a year off the track when winning a 2 runner contest at the end of November. That run told us little really, and to judge his ability to win this race we need to go back to his 2012 form. He seemed to be found out a bit at the top level then, finishing 5l behind Somersby at Ascot, before a bad mistake ended his chance in the Arkle. He disappointed after that at Aintree though, and while he seemed to be back on track to stardom when winning the Paddy Power in his first start last season, I would question whether that proves he’s top class over fences. He ran off 159 that day, and was chased home by horses rated 143, 145,137 and 137. As mentioned earlier with Cue Card, he wouldn’t need to be much better than 159 to give weight to that lot. Al Ferof is totally unexposed at staying trips though, and has often looked like he’d get 3 miles, whether he’ll get it in very testing conditions is another thing, but if he does he has a chance, but doesn’t interest me much at just 4/1
Silviniaco Conti won the 2012 Betfair Chase in a slowly run affair, he was still travelling well when he fell in this years Gold Cup but since then he came only 3rd at Aintree, before being beaten just less than 6l in this season’s Betfair Chase. Given he’s likely to be better suited to a slog than the 3 ahead of him in the betting he must have a good chance of turning the tables on the two that finished ahead of him at Haydock. I would have a slight question mark about him being quite as good right handed though. His form right handed in the 2011/12 season wasn’t as good as his subsequent left handed efforts.
Long Run won this twice, 3 years ago, and after coming 2nd to Kauto Star the following year, he just got back up to win last year. His form since then has made him look a little short of the really top level. His first run this year was poor, and while he ran better for a long way last time, he still ended up finishing 21l behind Cue Card. Maybe he was starting to get used to the check pieces that seemed to perk him up when he started wearing them in last season’s Gold Cup, so the first time visor might help. Another reason to give him a chance here is the conditions won’t bother him at all, and if it does turn into a slog I think it will suit him much more than the favorites.
Mount Benbulben is much better right handed over fences, than left handed, but he can still make mistakes that way around, as he did when falling at Down Royal last time while still travelling well. He would likely have gone close that day, but to win a race like this he would need to be hammering the like of Roi Du Mee. On what he’s done so far, he has a good bit to prove that’s he’s quite up to this level, and even then he still needs to get everything right on the day. I think the current quotes of 16/1 seem about right for him.
Menorah stayed 3 miles 1 at Aintree fine, but I’d have huge doubts about him doing the same in a slog on heavy, and he’s unlikely to be good enough. Riverside Theatre has been running like a horse who needs this trip over shorter. Getting outpaced before staying on well. He’s run well in the King George before without looking quite good enough to win one, and I just wonder if his recent efforts are more a case of a horse falling out of love with the game, rather than needing further. He was getting 6lb from Champion Court last time, and only beat him 1/2l. On level terms you would think the runner up might gain his revenge, but I think Riverside pulled himself up a little in front, and would still give him more chance of winning this, while still not being surprised if he runs a stinker.
On better ground I wouldn’t really fancy Long Run who I never rated as good as some did. His recent form suggest he may be on the decline, but if he does have a really big effort left in him it could be at Kempton at Christmas, and maybe the first time visor might help drag it out of him. Even if’s he’s not good enough, I could see him plod on into a place after a few others cry enough in the stamina sapping conditions, and with that in mind I think the 10/1 Each Way on him is the bet. For my best bets everyday you should check out my Premium Advisory Service which is showing a profit of 135 Points, for an ROI of +25.9% since launch in October.
King George Tips – 3.10 Kempton
1 pt Each Way Long Run at 10/1 with