Tornado Flyer springs King George surprise

Tornado Flyer shocked his rivals as he triumphed as a 28-1 outsider in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton Park.

Trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by his nephew Danny, Tornado Flyer came home nine lengths clear of dual winner Clan Des Obeaux, while Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Minella Indo and 3-1 favourite Chantry House failed to fire.

Sporting first-time cheekpieces, Minella Indo was noticeably keen in the early stages for Rachael Blackmore, going toe to toe with renowned front runner and last year’s King George victor Frodon, with the duo setting a strong early gallop.

Blackmore eventually took a pull, with Frodon allowed to dictate before Minella Indo again challenged going out onto the second circuit. However, it was clear from some way out the Irish raider would not be taking a hand in the finish as he dropped away and was pulled up. Chantry House, meanwhile, was pulled up with six fences still to jump after never really finding his stride.

Saint Calvados, one of three for Paul Nicholls along with Frodon and Clan Des Obeaux, went for home going strongly but his run started to stutter in the straight, just as Tornado Flyer and his stablemate Asterion Forlonge loomed large.

Tornado Flyer grabbed the lead at the penultimate fence and with Asterion Forlonge crashing out at the last, Clan Des Obeaux was left in second with Saint Calvados third and Frodon plugging on for fourth.

The winning rider was completing a double on the day, having struck earlier on Jacamar on what was his first trip to Kempton.

He said: “Winning a King George is something you dream about. You look at the likes of Kauto Star and the other horses that have won it. For Tornado Flyer to go and put in a performance like that is magic.

“I got into a good position early and he travelled into the race very well. I just wanted to keep saving a bit as it’s a long way down the straight here and thankfully I had a willing partner, which is what it’s all about.

“I knew I wasn’t out of it – I was cautiously optimistic that he’d run a good race. On the best of his form it’s in there and when he gets it all together he’s a proper good horse. He’s proved that today in such a competitive race.

“I was hopeful he’d stay and any time you’re riding for Willie in a race like this you have a right chance.

“You look at everything the Mullins’ have achieved, I’m delighted to be part of the family.”

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