King George VI Chase tips: Thistlecrack can reign supreme in Kempton feature
David Metcalf | 26 December 2016
Coral experts give their 2016 King George VI Chase tips, featuring a fascinating head-to-head between Thistlecrack bets and Cue Card odds that is the centrepiece of British festive horse racing from Kempton.
King George VI Chase tips: Thistlecrack bets best for Boxing day showpiece
Thistlecrack can get the better of stablemate Cue Card to maintain his unbeaten record over fences in the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day (15:15).
The Colin Tizzard trained eight-year-old was flawless in five starts last season, proving himself one of the best staying hurdlers since for many a year when demolishing the opposition in the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Thistlecrack then put in an awesome display of power and speed to follow-up with a facile and stunning success in the Liverpool Stayers’ Hurdle at Aintree during the Grand National meeting.
Those performances saw him rated 174 at the end of a super campaign, just 2lb lower than Cue Card is over fences at present.
Thistlecrack could have ruled supreme in the staying hurdle division for a long time, yet connections insisted he would go chasing this season with his ultimate aim the Cheletenham Gold Cup.
It was a bold decision, but the selection has has looked the real deal in winning all three of his starts over the larger obstacles this season.
Ultra-impressive at Newbury
In the last of those, Thistlecrack jumped terrifically to make all and cruise clear on the bridle when landing a Grade 2 contest by eight lengths barely breaking a sweat.
It was a breathtaking performance and the front-running tactics clearly suited Thistlecrack.
Prior to that, many had been quick to crab his jumping as Thistlecrack had gone long at a couple of fences and done well to stay on his feet.
However, those errors were forced because he was so superior to the opposition and wanted to go faster than regular jockey and Coral Ambassador Tom Scudamore would allow.
Potential to be a better chaser than hurdler
When allowed to go his own pace last time out at Newbury he was immaculate in the jumping department and, although Thistlecrack steps out of novice company against the big boys, he is arguably the best horse in the race.
If again allowed to dictate proceedings at his own pace, then there are doubts over whether anything will have enough pace to pick him up at the business end of affairs as he goes through the gears.
Thistlecrack has the potential to be an even better hurdler than a chaser, and that is frightening given how good he was over the smaller obstacles.
He can take this to cement his position at the head of the betting for the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup – a race which Thistlecrack is currently 3/1 favourite with Coral to win.
Cue Card odds say he’s sure to make bid to retain crown
Cue Card showed tremendous guts to get up close home and beat Vautour by a head in the race 12 months ago, so is sure to give it his best shot to retain his crown.
The 10-year-old has been a terrific servant over the years and has won 11 of his 26 starts over fences.
After winning this last year, Cue Card was till going strongly when falling three from home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and he looked as good as ever last time out when landing the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock for a third time.
The gelding cruised clear to beat 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Conyegree by 15 lengths, but that one was returning from a lengthy absence and was entitled to need the run.
High cruising speed and potent turn of foot
However, Cue Card did all the could be asked and he has a high cruising speed and potent turn of foot when on-song. Whether he has as much speed as Thistlecrack, however, is questionable.
Cue Card is also a hold-up horse and regular jockey Paddy Brennan will have to get things spot on tactically – if Thistlecrack does make the running – as he cannot allow a horse of so much potential and talent too much rope.
Of the others, Josses Hill is progressing nicely, but in all honesty this looks a head-to-head on all known form between Cue Card and Thistlecrack.
Are you on Thistlecrack bets or Cue Card odds for the King George? Let us know in the comments below.
Coral’s top tip: Thistlecrack bets look worth a wager to get the better of stablemate Cue Card in a mouthwatering renewal of the King George VI Chase.