The King George VI Chase is the showpiece event of the Christmas period and the highlight of Kempton’s Boxing Day fixture.
The three-mile Grade 1 steeplechase brings together the classiest staying chasers around and the result nearly always has a major bearing on ante-post Gold Cup betting.
The race has been won by some of the biggest names in National Hunt racing but no horse has won more King George VI Chase’s than the great Kauto Star who took top honours a remarkable five times between 2006 and 2011.
Which horse is going to follow in Kauto Star’s footsteps in 2021? Here’s our ultimate guide to the festive period’s feature contest.
Date: Saturday, December 26
Status: Grade 1
Prize fund: £250,000 (£143,375 to the winner)
Live on: ITV and Racing TV at 3.05pm
10/10 winners had already scored at Grade 1 level
10/10 winners were trained in England
10/10 had already won a hurdle or chase race on a right-handed track
9/10 had already won a chase over 3m+
8/10 were already Grade 1 winners over fences
8/10 were no older than eight
8/10 were no bigger than 11/2 in the betting
7/10 winners were rated 168+
6/10 were trained by Paul Nicholls
Only one trainer to focus on here and that is Paul Nicholls, who has won the King George an incredible 12 times. The 12-time champion jumps trainer has won the last three editions with Clan Des Obeaux (2) and Frodon (1), both of which are back for more in 2021.
No current rider has ridden more than one King George winner but the likes of Paddy Brennan, Tom Scudamore, Nico de Boinville, Sam Twiston-Davies and Bryony Frost are all on the honours board.
Asterion Forlonge - Had his jumping problems over the bigger obstacles and they resurfaced in the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase where he unseated his rider three-out when seemingly travelling best of all. Dangerous if things come together but never gone beyond an extended 2m5f and trainer only won this race once (Florida Pearl in 2021).
Chantry House - Only been beaten once in six starts over fences and took advantage of Envoi Allen’s early departure to win the Marsh Novices’ Chase in March. Followed up when he beat the talented Shan Blue by 32 lengths. Made short work of a 148-rated rival on return and looks more than ready for this first foray into open company at the top level. Never run at Kempton but has won right-handed.
Clan Des Obeaux - Winner of this race in 2018 and 2019 but had a prep run both times, unlike this year. However, unlikely to lack for fitness given who he is trained by and he looked as good as ever at the backend of last season, winning Grade 1’s at Aintree and Punchestown. Disappointed in this race 12 months ago but steady gallop wouldn't have suited him.
Dashel Drasher - Lowest-rated runner in the line-up and not yet proven over 3m. Beaten 16 lengths by Lostintranslation in the Grade 2 1965 Chase at Ascot so mountain to climb to turn that form around, let alone trouble the big guns in this. Normally races on the front end, so could still play a key role in ensuring that they go a reasonable gallop, but impossible to fancy from a win perspective.
Frodon - Winner of this race 12 months ago but that was a sub-par renewal in which stablemate Clan Des Obeaux underperformed in third. Bounced back from being thrashed in Gold Cup to win Sandown Grade 2 in April then was produced in tremendous condition to win the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Punchestown in April, with Minello Indo five lengths back in third. This has been the mid-season target for some time and likely to be at fever pitch once again, but it looks a deeper contest than in 2021.
Lostintranslation - Career not gone to plan since winning the 2019 Betfair Chase at Haydock but the vibes were positive ahead of his seasonal return at Ascot where he proved well suited by sitting just off a strong gallop before seeing his race out strongly to beat Master Tommytucker by four lengths. This altogether tougher but no surprise to see him run with credit now career is back on track.
Minella Indo - Gold Cup winner in March and is a Grade 1-winning hurdler at Punchestown so going right-handed should be no issue. Not at his best when beaten by Frodon at Down Royal on return but likely to be much straighter now and is the highest-rated runner in the line-up. Would ideally want some slower ground but trainer has been hoovering up big prizes this side of the Irish Sea and it would be no surprise if it happened again here. Huge player.
Mister Fisher - Not the safest of jumpers but avoided any major errors when beaten just a neck by Frodon at Sandown in April and drying conditions will be in his favour. However, not yet completed the course in Grade 1 company and chance once again that the level of competition will take him out of his comfort zone.
Saint Calvados - Beaten around eight lengths in this race last season (first try at 3m) but wasn’t helped by steady early gallop and would be seen to much better effect if they went harder up front. Best form, a neck second to Min in the 2020 Ryanair Chase, gives him an each-way chance should stay so can’t be discounted, especially as he’s trained by Paul Nicholls.
Tornado Flyer - Grade 1 bumper winner and although jumping career hasn’t really scaled the heights that many expected, he was far from disgraced when keeping on into third in the 2021 Ryanair Chase. That run suggests he’ll probably stay but the general level of his form isn’t good enough to win a race like this.
11/4 Clan Des Obeaux, Minella Indo, 9/2 Frodon, 5 Chantry House, 11/2 Asterion Forlonge, 10 Lostintranslation, 16 Saint Calvados, 25 Tornado Flyer, 33 Mister Fisher, 66 Dashel Drasher (odds correct at time of publication).
More competitive than 12 months ago and the presence of Dashel Drasher should mean that Frodon is kept honest on the front end in the early exchanges.
Minella Indo and Clan Des Obeaux are obvious players but there might be some value in siding with CHANTRY HOUSE who is a young chaser firmly on the up.
He’s got a bit to find with the best of these on the numbers but he absolutely demolished Shan Blue in the Betway Mildmay Novices' Chase last season and that rival would have won the Charlie Hall Chase by a distance had he not made a mess of the last fence at Wetherby in October.
Chantry House oozed class at Sandown on return and, with connections making some fairly bullish noises in the build-up, this rising star can land the biggest prize of his career so far.
2020 Frodon 20/1
2019 Clan Des Obeaux 11/2
2018 Clan Des Obeaux 12/1
2017 Might Bite 6/4F
2016 Thistlecrack 11/10F
2015 Cue Card 9/2
2014 Silviniaco Conti 15/8F
2013 Silviniaco Conti 7/2
2012 Long Run 15/8F
2011 Kauto Star 3/1