2016 King George VI Chase: Runner profiles for the seven contenders
2016 King George VI Chase runner profiles
The Grade 1 King George VI Chase takes centre stage on a cracking Boxing Day card at Kempton (15.15) and the Colin Tizzard trained pair of Cue Card and Thistlecrack dominate the betting for the prestigious 3m contest.
Coral’s horse racing experts look at the runner profiles of all seven entrants left in this year’s fascinating renewal following the final declaration stage.
Trainer: Colin Tizzard
One of the best chasers in training and a real credit to connections. Has won 11 of his 26 starts over the larger obstacles and showed tremendous guts to get up close home in this race 12 months ago to beat the brilliant and ill-fated Vautour by a head. Looked as good as ever last time out when landing a third Betfair Chase at Haydock by 15 lengths from 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree, sauntering clear to score with consummate ease. Has a high cruising speed and potent turn of foot and the one to beat on form. Versatile as regards ground and looks sure to give it his best shot under regular pilot Paddy Brennan to retain his crown.
Trainer: Nicky Henderson
Had some top-class form to his name over hurdles and is now finally getting his act together over the larger obstacles. Was held back by his jumping in the early stages of his chasing career, but still managed to finish a fine third to Un De Sceaux in the 2015 running of the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival. Comes into the race having won his last three starts and was particularly impressive last time out when jumping well and making all to slam Tea For Two by six lengths in a Grade 2 contest at Huntingdon. Has nothing to fear from that re-opposing rival but this demands much more and unlikely to get an easy lead.
Road To Riches
Trainer: Noel Meade (Ireland)
Trained in Ireland, Road To Riches developed into a top class performer in 2014/15 and enjoyed his finest hour when showing tremendous battling qualities to beat On His Own in the Grade 1 Lexus Chase at Leopardstown. He went on to run a stormer to finish third to Coneygree in the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup, holding every chance at the last before being unable to find any extra close home to be beaten 3 1/2 lengths. Also ran well at this year’s Cheltenham Festival when third in the Ryanair to Vautour, but has been blow par in four outings since. Needs to bounce back and it looks a huge ask for him to trouble the principles.
Roi Des Francs
Trainer: Gordon Elliott (Ireland)
Won two of his six races over fences when trained by Willie Mullins, beating Pont Alexandre in a three-runner Grade 2 affair in the last of those at Naas. Well-beaten sixth the RSA Chase at this year’s Cheltenham Festival and also beaten out of sight when sixth in a Grade 1 at Aintree. Has since joined Gordon Elliott and finished third on reappearance at Thurles last month in a minor contest. Rank outsider who looks to be purely making up the numbers and has zero chance on form.
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Has been a real class act in his prime, winning seven Grade 1 contest over fences. Those victories including back-to-back victories in this race in 2013/14. However, was pulled-up when bidding for a third success 12 months ago and this looks just as a strong a renewal. Ran well enough when runner-up in a Grade 1 at Down Royal on seasonal reappearance but subsequently beaten 42 lengths when fourth to Cue Card in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and doesn’t look the force of old.
Tea For Two
Trainer: Nick Williams
Unbeaten in three starts at the venue and has won two of his five starts over fences. Ran well last time out when chasing home Josses Hill in the Peterbrough Chase at Huntingdon but had previously finished just fifth in a handicap at Ascot. Remains unexposed over the larger obstacles and open to further improvement but on all known form faces a mammoth task and looks out of his depth in this classy line-up.
Trainer: Colin Tizzard
One of the best staying hurdlers seen for a long time who was unbeaten in five starts last season. Those victories included a demolition job in the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and an awesome display in the Liverpool Stayers’ Hurdle at Aintree where he won with consummate ease. Has looked the real deal in winning all three of his starts over the larger obstacles this season. In the last of those he jumped terrifically to make all and cruise clear on the bridle to land a Grade 2 contest at Newbury by eight lengths. Thistlecrack has a huge engine and is a strong traveller with a potent turn of foot. Has the potential to be an even better chaser than a hurdler and the one to beat granted a clear round.