King George VI Chase Trends
In my last post of the year, I'm going to take a look at the King George VI Chase trends.
I've also got some Christmas merriment, mainly courtesy of arguably the best English football manager in the country right now (clue: not Harry or Woy).
First up, and with my thanks to Racecaller on the Racing UK forum for saving me many hours of time, I've amalgamated his King George VI Chase trends with a couple of my own to outline a profile horse... Let's see what the history of the last ten King George's tells us.
STRONG KING GEORGE VI CHASE TRENDS
- All of the last ten King George VI Chase winners had already won a Grade 1 chase
- All of the last ten King George VI Chase winners had run between one and four times that season
- All of the last ten King George VI Chase winners had run within eight weeks of the race
- Nine of the last ten King George VI Chase winners were aged between 6 and 9 years old
- Nine of the last ten King George VI Chase winners won their last completed start.
OTHER KING GEORGE VI CHASE TRENDS
- All of the last ten King George VI Chase winners were French or Irish bred (six French, four Irish)
- The favourite has won seven of the last King George VI Chase's
- Prior to Kauto Star's four year dominance, four of the six winners were trained overseas (three in Ireland and one in France)
Kauto Star and the King George VI Chase
Kauto Star is not just a two time winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He is also a four time winner of the King George VI Chase, a record matched only by the equally popular Desert Orchid in the late eighties. Clearly, as a result of that, the trends are somewhat skewed (especially bearing in mind that Kicking King won the previous two runnings of the race, meaning that two horses are responsible for the last six victories!)
Kauto Star first won this race as a six year old, and is now a ten year old. Desert Orchid won the race as a 7yo, and then aged 9, 10 and 11. More recently, Edredon Bleu rolled back the years to also prevail as an 11yo. Whilst the bulk of history shows that younger horses generally win, Kauto Star is not a horse to be confined to 'the bulk of history'.
Kauto Star is a French-bred, and his four wins are added to by those of the aforementioned veteran, Eddie Blue,Â and also Francois Doumen's fifth winner in the race, First Gold, way back in 2000. The remaining four - as previously stated - were all bred in Ireland. The last British bred winner was ex-hunter chaser, Teeton Mill, in 1998.
Let's apply those trends to this year's race.
Firstly, all entries have had one, two, or in Ollie Magern's case, three runs this season, so no fallers at the first. And all have run within the last 56 days (though Riverside Theatre would have been an unlucky disqualification having last raced 55 days ago).
But then, at the first open ditch (metaphorically speaking, of course), there's a pile up. A number of the field have yet to win a Grade 1 chase, which is something that the last eleven winners have achieved. (Again, it was Teeton Mill who previously won his first Grade 1 in the King George VI Chase).
Out go Burton Port, Madison du Berlais, Nacarat, Riverside Theatre, and The Nightingale, all of whom have won Grade 2 affairs, but none of whom have hit the bullseye at the Grade 1 oche (as it were).
Aside from Edredon Bleu, the last double digit-aged winner was Dessie in 1990. So, whilst we'll leave the redoubtable Kauto Star in, Ollie Magern at twelve gets the bus pass at this point. Quite simply, the first winner of this race, Southern Hero in 1937, was a twelve year old. He was also the last of that age or more to win.
I've said this before, and I'll say it again, please let Ollie run in hunter chases. He'd probably bag a nice prize there, which he thoroughly deserves as he retains enthusiasm if not the toe he once had.
At the other end of the scale, Long Run continues to be overfaced so early in his career. It's hard to fathom, but he's still only a five year old! That's younger than any winner of this race ever, and is enough for a big red line through his name on my racecard.
Only one winner of the King George had failed to win last time out when completing, since Algan in 1994. This is a big negative for Albertas Run, Noland, Forpadydeplasterer, Planet Of Sound, Sizing Europe, What A Friend, Burton Port and Long Run.
In fact, it would have been easier for me to say it's a big plus for Kauto Star, The Nightingale and Riverside Theatre. Alas for the latter two, they've already been struck through elsewhere, which leaves us with the shortest of shortlists: Kauto Star.
Now I know that's not a very original choice! 😉 That said, he's odds against, at 11/10, so there's a reasonable argument that he may represent value here. And he remains the likeliest winner. The question is, will Kauto Star regress quick enough for another horse here to progress past him?
And the somewhat boring answer is 'probably not'. But, for sport - despite it potentially being an academic exercise - let's try to figure out the horse for the forecast... and who maybe can turn over the Star.
Most of the other contenders, excepting dear old Ollie, fail only on one criterion. So why don't we reinstate them, and consider the secondary trends?
We're thus now looking for a French or Irish bred horse, who may well be trained overseas or by Paul Nicholls (successful twice with See More Business as well as four times with Kauto Star). This leaves two Irish-trained horses, both Grade 1 winners, and both second last time out, Forpadydeplasterer and Sizing Europe; and The Nightingale, bred in France and trained by the champ.
Forpady is a professional bridesmaid. Despite his trainer Thomas Cooper's protestations to the contrary, the fact remains that 'deplasterer has been second in eleven of his seventeen career starts! He's won five of the other six, and has never been worse than fourth. As such 11/1 looks strong value IF you believe he'll stay this far.
Again, his trainer sees no problems with the trip, but if you want a more reliable barometer of this requirement... like, oh, let's say, form in the book... it's instructive to note that Forpady's never won beyond 2m 2f, and he's had five goes at it. In fact, on one of the two occasions he went beyond 2m4f, in the 2008 Baring Bingham Novices' Hurdle at the Festival, he ran his worst finishing position of fourth. In fairness, it certainly wouldn't have been his worst run ever, and he wasn't beaten far.
Ultimately, I want to see him prove he can stay before backing him. That said, he'll likely travel very well for a long way and see off much of the competition in doing so.
The other chap from over the sea is last year's Arkle winner, Sizing Europe. He's got plenty of top drawer Grade 1 form, including two chase wins in the class. But, he also has stamina to prove. Unlike 'pady, Sizing Europe has at least run twice over the longer trip of three miles (or as near as damn it). And he's found one too good both times.
It's arguable that he needed the run first time out when second to a race fit China Rock. It is further arguable that he stayed on well enough when beating China Rock but yielding to Kauto Star last time. Both are reasonable arguments. Neither give him a chance to beat Kauto Star here.
The Nightingale has not won beyond Grade 2 company, nor beyond 2m5f, but that 2m5f win was at Kempton in the Grade 2 Pendil Novices' Chase. He's clearly on the upgrade, and is one of the more progressive looking types in the contest. Whilst his bare form isn't as solid as a number of the field, 40/1 reflects that and yet still offers a smidgen of value.
But, as forecast wagers, I'd be happy to play the Irish pair behind the main man. And I'd probably add Sizing Europe in for a place wager too. The best outsider looks to be The Nightingale, who might run a nice race at a nice price.
Let's hope that the race is as great as the favourite has been, and that they all come home safe, especially Ollie.
Most likely winner: Kauto Star
Best place bet: Sizing Europe
Best Outsider: The Nightingale
Forecast plays: Kauto Star to beat Forpadydeplaster or Sizing Europe
Now then, talking of Ollie, football fans will know that's the nickname of the brilliant Blackpool manager, Ian Holloway. And I do mean brilliant. His track record as a manager with no resources has few peers, and the performances of his Tangerines this season have been noteworthy for two facts: 1. they've not lost many, and 2. they've played some really good football.
Best of all though, Ollie is a West Country lunatic, and must be double-jointed, so often has he put his foot in his mouth. Here is just one classic excerpt:
Also on a football note, and a little, erm, fruitier - well it is Christmas - here are some managers being taken out of context for the merriment of viewers...
That's all from me here on Geegeez until the New Year. My salubrious travel agenda this Christmas takes in Barking, Knutsford, Liverpool (Airport) and Cork. And I'll be taking in far more food and drink than is good for me. But that's the drill isn't it? 😉
So, in the meantime, I want to sincerely thank you for taking time this year to pop by here and read my drivel, and to wish you and those dear to you the very best of the season.