Stamina the key in King George

HANG ON a second! Is the King George VI Chase over two miles or three? The list of possible runners reads like a Champion Chase field: Finian’s Rainbow, Sizing Europe, Cue Card, Captain Chris… The list goes on. I cannot remember a King George field so chock full of two-mile specialists and middle distance horses.

In the past some two-milers have successfully stepped up in trip to win the King George, notably Desert Orchid, Edredon Bleu and One Man.

But the King George has proved a graveyard for many others who have tried three miles for the first time. For example, in 2008 Voy Por Ustedes was cruising turning into the straight, but didn’t quite get home. Last year both Somersby and Captain Chris didn’t quite see it out.

There is an assumption that Kempton’s sharpish three miles is equitable to 2m 4f around Cheltenham. On good ground that might be the case, but decent conditions are a rarity on Boxing Day. The Kempton ground can become really testing and tacky and can be the undoing of many a good horse.

Personally I will avoid backing anything without proven stamina. So those contenders mentioned above will have a line going through them. So who does it leave?

Long Run looks the safest bet but is poor value in the latest King George market while both Cue Card and Riverside Theatre are doubtful stayers. The latter was second two years ago and goes well fresh but I can’t see him getting home on the likely soft ground.

For me two horses stand out as each way value. The Giant Bolster will get the trip and ran an encouraging first race at Haydock. He looks strong each way value although he would not want the ground to be bottomless. And then there is Sir Des Champs. He is not a certain runner but I hope connections let him take his chance. He is as big as 12/1 and that could be excellent value. He showed he stays 3m at Punchestown in April and will strip a lot fitter for his seasonal reappearance.

Who do you fancy for the King George?

Win: Sir Des Champs (with a run)

Each-way: The Giant Bolster

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