The King George VI Chase takes place on Boxing Day and is regarded as the second most prestigious chase in England, behind only by the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The inaugural event took place in 1937 but wasn’t held on Boxing Day until 1947.
Kauto Star is the most successful horse in the history of the King George, winning five times over a six-year period between 2006-11.
It’s Might Bite whom currently heads into the much-anticipated event in under three weeks’ time as the 7/2 favourite with the bookmakers. Nicky Henderson’s horse will be looking to make up for a disappointing run at the Betfair Chase where it came home in last place despite starting the race as odds-on favourite. The nine-year-old won this event 12 months ago, ridden by Nico de Boinville, whom is set to take the saddle once again this year.
Other horses among the favourites that are being talked about a lot heading into the Kempton event include the Betfair Chase winner, Bristol De Mai, at 13/2, fourth favourite Native River at 7/1 and Thistlecrack with King George Chase odds of 8/1.
One horse that should not be overlooked and that deserves more attention is Ruth Jefferson’s Waiting Patiently. If we go back to February this year, we’ll recall Brian Hughes riding Waiting Patiently home as a winner at Ascot by nearly three lengths ahead of the popular Cue Card.
The Irish horse has won each of its last seven races and is a perfect six out of six in steeplechase races over the course of its career.
Ruth Jefferson is looking to become the first female trainer to win the King George since Henrietta Knight won with Edredon Bleu in 2003. 12 months earlier the Oxford graduate won the race with Best Mate, ridden by Tony McCoy.
Jefferson is confident in her horse heading into the Boxing Day event, recently telling Racing UK:
“Everything is going according to plan – I couldn’t be happier with him, to be honest.
“He’s absolutely bouncing at the moment, so fingers crossed they get some rain at Kempton and we’ll be there.
“There are still one or two things to do – we haven’t schooled him yet for instance, but hopefully we’ll do that next week or the week after.”
The North Yorkshire-based trainer could see her wishes of rain on Boxing Day granted with the weather expected to take a downturn as early as next week.
Experience could be the key as no horse younger than six years old has ever won this event. What’s more, the last six winners have all been between the ages of seven and nine – Waiting Patiently itself is seven years old.
Ruth Jefferson’s December has already got off to the ideal start with Secrete Stream winning at Haydock as a 12/1 starter earlier this week. But it’s the King George that she will be anticipating the most – all preparation will be going into her final event of the year to end 2018 on the highest of highs.