The King George VI Chase is second only to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in terms of prestigious in the 3m division in the UK and Ireland. This year’s Boxing Day feature at Kempton could be a fantastic renewal as the entries for the race look very strong.

might bite

 

Credit: BHA Press Office via Twitter

 

Last season’s RSA Chase winner Might Bite tops the betting at 7/4 to win the biggest prize of his career so far. As you can see at Timeform, on his seasonal reappearance at Sandown, he scored by eight lengths in a faultless performance as he always looked in control at the Esher-track in the Listed contest.

 

Connections will be hoping their talented chaser can have success in the top graded races outside of novice company. The eight-year-old was prone to the odd mistake last season. In the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on the King George card, he was on course for an emphatic victory before falling at the last fence. The Cheltenham Festival winner also almost threw his large lead away in the RSA Chase when he veered to the right up the hill at Prestbury Park, before jockey Nico De Boinville was able to straighten him up again.

 

Might Bite could face strong opposition from Thistlecrack and Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai at Kempton. Question marks have to be asked about last year’s champion though as he struggled to get home at Newbury on his comeback run. Bristol De Mai, on the other hand, was a 57-length winner at Haydock in the first leg of the Chase Triple Crown; however, he won’t have the luxury of facing such poor opposition this time around.

 

Whisper is a stablemate of Might Bite’s and has some solid form just behind last season’s champion novice. Not only was the nine-year-old second behind the RSA Chase winner at Cheltenham, he also chased him home at Aintree in the Mildmay Novices Chase.

 

After a winning return at Kempton last month, Whisper ran a brilliant race in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury where he finished second, just half a length behind the winner Total Recall. That was an impressive weight-carrying performance and one in which should give his connections the confidence that he could be set for a big season. At 20/1, he looks overpriced to finally beat Might Bite in a Grade One chase.

 

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Politologue proved how much of a versatile chaser he is with victory in the Grade One Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown recently, where he beat 2m specialist Fox Norton. Paul Nicholls’ runner has already won over 2m5f during his career therefore the King George trip is likely to be well within his reach.

 

At the age of just six, there could be a lot more to come from this grey as his peak years look to be ahead of him. If connections do take a chance in the King George later this month, he would be a huge price at 25/1 to pull off what would be an extraordinary chase double in December.

 

Likeliest winner: Might Bite

 

Value bets: Whisper @20/1 and Politologue @ 25/1

 

 

The Betway Sprint Handicap (1.50) at Southwell on Monday is competitive enough, but Crosse Fire has won seven times at the Nottinghamshire venue and ran as though his turn wasn’t far away on his most recent visit 18 days ago. Scott Dixon’s 6-year-old has been raised 1lb in the weights for finishing third, beaten half a length and the same, behind Midnight Malibu in a similar race over 5 furlongs on that occasion, but remains 2lb lower than when winning over course and distance in April. The Monsieur Bond gelding has been campaigned mainly over 5 furlongs in recent starts, winning over that distance at Beverley in May and Pontefract in July, but has overall form figures of 361514360 over course and distance and it’ll be disappointing if he’s not there or thereabouts once again off what appears to be a workable mark.

 

Selection: Southwell 1.50 Crosse Fire to win   5/1

 

Little Chunk ran as if in need of the race at Ludlow earlier this month on his debut for Kim Bailey may be ready to strike in the Visit Racing UK.com Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (3.40) at Kempton on Monday. The Mr Dinos gelding closed on the eventual winner, Tempuran, with three to jump at Ludlow but, having narrowed the lead to a length and a half, could make no further impression in the closing stages. Ridden, once again, by regular partner Mikey Hamill, who won on him a couple of times for previous connections last season, he should strip fitter on this occasion.

Both wins last season came on sharp tracks on good going, so Kempton should play to his strengths, and he has run well enough on soft and heavy going to make him of interest whatever the weather in Sunbury-on-Thames in the next 24 hours. Of the 10 rides Mikey Hamill has had for Kim Bailey over hurdles this season, just one has won, but four have finished second and two have finished third, so a forward showing for Little Chunk, even in this slightly higher grade, would be no real surprise.

Selection: Kempton 3.40 Little Chunk to win  10/3

 

The Betway Bet & Watch at Sunbets.co.uk Handicap (6.45) at Newcastle on Wednesday is the type of race that put the ‘egg’ in ‘egg and spoon’, but something has to win it and, with winning form in short supply, a shock result could be on the cards. Prisom has had plenty of chances since making a winning debut over 6 furlongs at Wolverhampton two years ago, but returns to Tapeta for the first time since going down by a short head over 7 furlongs at the West Midlands track last January. Gay Kelleway’s 4-year-old can race off a handicap mark 8lb lower – in fact, her lowest ever – which just gets her into this lowly 0-50 contest so, if she’s ever to add to her winning tally, she will surely have few better opportunities. She comes with risks attached, of course, but that comment applies equally to anything else in the field and her wily trainer usually knows the time of day.

 

Selection: Newcastle 6.45 Prisom to win  8/1

 

The Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock will be the first opportunity for us to see some of the leading chasers in the three-mile division making their return to action after having the summer off. This race also kicks off the opening leg of the Chase Triple Crown, with the King George VI Chase at Kempton and Cheltenham Gold Cup then set to follow.

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On the evidence of what we saw at the back end of last season in this division, the horse that really stood out was Sizing John as, not only did he prevail in the biggest race of the campaign, the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Festival, he proved that his success was no fluke and that he was entirely comfortable with this distance when he landed the Punchestown Gold Cup in Ireland.

 

Jessica Harrington’s runner often had to settle for second or third place in some of the leading 2m races over fences, largely due to the fact he kept running into Douvan, who was just in a different league. Since stepping up 3m and beyond, though, his rating has gone up sharply and there could be a lot more to come. Some punters are confident that he could complete the Chase Triple Crown this season. He is available at 5/4 in the horse racing betting at Haydock for the Betfair Chase and if he does succeed at the Lancashire track, his odds will be slashed to follow it up with victories at Kempton and Cheltenham.

 

Outlander is a horse who generally shows his best form when fresh early in the season. That was evident earlier this month when he claimed the Grade One JNWine.com Chase at Down Royal where he beat some good Irish horses including Our Duke and Road to Respect. Gordon Elliott’s runner showed his class in the Grade One Lexus Chase last season during the Festive meeting at Leopardstown, therefore, he has proven himself at this top level on more than one occasion. The only concern is that his form in the UK is not as good as Ireland; however, at odds of 10/1, he is worth taking a chance with against the market leaders.

 

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Tea for Two caused an upset last season at the Grand National meeting at Aintree when he scored in the Grade One Bowl Chase, where he beat the red-hot favourite Cue Card. The former winner of the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton was fresh at the Merseyside track as he unseated his regular pilot Lizzie Kelly at the first fence of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Nick Williams’ runner may be able to take advantage if some of the big guns in the Betfair Chase fail to produce their best for their seasonal reappearance. The eight-year-old has been consistent over the last couple of years since switching to fences. At 14/1, he is an excellent each-way proposition and one in which he is not without a chance of landing the first place prize money.

 

Likeliest Winner: Sizing John

 

Value Bets: Outlander @ 10/1 and Tea For Two @ 14/1