Can Thistlecrack retain the King George VI?
We have a Christmas cracker to look forward to at Kempton Park with the King George VI Chase this year.
This looks to be one of the strongest and open contests for many a year. Last years winner Thistlecrack is here to defend his crown but is not the force he once was.
If he was anywhere near the horse he was last year at this point you would be lucky to get 1/6 never mind 6/1!
Since his defeat to Many Clouds in the Cotswold Chase in late January he has had only the one run. That was in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury where he was eased up 2 hurdles out when he had no chance of winning. It is worth remembering this horse has only been defeated once over fences and did defeat Cue Card here impressively last year by 3.25l in the corresponding race.
His jumping is impeccable and incredibly his last race was only the 2nd time in 17 races he has not finished in the first 3 places!
King George VI Likely Contenders
The likely favourite for the King George VI Chase will be the Nicky Henderson trained Might Bite.
The leading novice of last year has had mixed fortunes at this course. He was 10l clear before falling at the last in the Kauto Star Novices Chase at the corresponding meeting last year. Prior to that he had coasted to an 8l victory albeit over hurdles here.
This season he has won over the larger obstacles at Sandown. After his fall at Kempton in December 2016 he put together impressive displays at Doncaster, Cheltenham Festival and Aintree Grand National meeting winning at all 3 venues.
This though will represent his toughest test and with likely front runners in the field it will be interesting to see his tactics.
One of the likely front runners will be Bristol De Mai. Nigel Twiston-Davies charge comes here in the form of his life. His last 2 outings have seen him collect the Charlie Hall at Wetherby and the Betfair Chase at Haydock.
Both races he either led or was in the leading group.
I feel it is imperative that he does the same here to continue to have a chance of landing the Jockey Club Triple Crown. He is probably one of the few horses in the field hoping for more rain as well.
Colin Tizzard also has Fox Norton in the race alongside Thistlecrack and he may have slipped under the radar.
The major question mark against this horse is whether he stays 3 miles+. If he does then he will certainly have a great chance.
But after his run in the Tingle Creek at Sandown Park he is one I think I will be avoiding.
King George VI Tip of The Day
With Might Bite not likely to get things his own way with likely front runners in the race I am going to opt for THISTLECRACK E/W.
He is generally available at 6/1 with most bookmakers and place terms are 1/5 first 3 places.