Kempton preview: King George VI Chase (15.10)
David Metcalf | December 23, 2015
Don Cossack can make his class tell to land a cracking renewal of the King George VI Chase at Kempton (15.10), and provide Ireland with its first winner of the Grade 1 contest in 10 years.
The Gordon Elliott trained gelding was a revelation last season, with the manner of his victories in Aintree’s Melling Chase and the Punchestown Gold Cup elevating him to the top of the Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications with a rating of 175.
Don Cossack slammed Djakadam by eight lengths in the latter, and that rival had previously run a blinder to finish runner-up to Coneygree in the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Festival.
That is extremely strong form, and the eight-year-old has looked as good as ever in winning both his starts this season.
After a facile 12-length victory in a Grade 3 contest at Punchestown, Don Cossack toyed with Rocky Creek when winning the Grade 1 JNwine Champion Chase at Down Royal unextended by eight lengths.
Those performances oozed class, and Don Cossack is a strong travelling sort who has a good turn of foot and should get the race run to suit.
Cue Card has come in
Cue Card has bounced back to his brilliant best this season and looks sure to give the Don plenty to think about.
After landing the Charlie Hall Chase in terrific style at Wetherby on his return to action, the Colin Tizzard trained gelding posted a breathtaking display when cruising to success in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.
Cue Card raced with plenty of zest behind the pace-setting Silviniaco Conti before taking up the running on the bridle three from home, with jockey Paddy Brennan sitting motionless.
The nine-year-old then stretched effortlessly clear approaching the final fence, and after a good jump won easing down by seven lengths.
To me it was the best performance of his career and, although Cue Card has been unsuccessful in three previous attempts in this race, he did finish a solid second in 2013. Cue Card now looks better than ever.
There is no reason why Silviniaco Conti, who is going for a hat-trick of successes in the race, should reverse the placings with Cue Card.
I was unimpressed with the much vaunted Vautour’s winning reappearance at Ascot, and think the Willie Millins trained gelding has it all to do at this level against a quality field the like of which he’s not race against before.
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Coral’s top tip: Don Cossack is a class act and rates a solid bet to land the spoils. The rejuvenated Cue Card can give him most to think about.