This year’s King George looks well up to scratch, yet it’s my head that’s received most of the scratching because you could make a case for most of the field.
The first observation to make is defending champion and Gold Cup-second Might Bite’s drifting price – he’s out to 4/1 in places and apparently easy in the market after his flop in the Betfair Chase.
Though I’m his biggest fan, I’ve been dead against him for this race because he’s going to need a lifetime best to win it, as last year’s renewal doesn’t look strong form with the 2nd and 3rd home upwards of 40/1 this time around.
A lifetime best now he’s pushing ten-years-old and after such a terrible run at Haydock seems speculative, but at 9/2 I think we’re now looking at a bit of value given the conditions of the race are ideal.
Might Bite is 2-0 down to Native River in their head-to-head, but the conditions of this race couldn’t be more different to the Gold Cup, which was raced on desperate ground on a left-handed undulating track.
Native River looks no better than a fair price at 6/1 given he clearly struggled with the pace of the Betfair Chase, which was raced on good ground, and he does jump a little left which is a huge negative at Kempton.
He’s passed while Waiting Patiently simply looks too short at 4/1 on his first go at three miles – though he could be anything and remains very unexposed in this company and both this being his seasonal reappearance and the fast ground are negatives.
Politologue is a horse I really like that ticks a lot of the boxes required of a King George winner, except he’s not proved he stays three miles at championship pace.
Pace he does have, though, and he jumps and travels as well as any of his opponents so I can see him going really well.
Thistlecrack further muddies the waters as a past winner that clearly has the talent to land this again, despite a couple of seasons in the wilderness after injury.
He looked like he was running back to form in the Betfair Chase but, aged nearly 11 and still a long way short of his best, I think it’s fanciful to expect him to win this.
Copy/paste those comments for my old pal Coneygree, who I’m sure will make the running and surprise a few naysayers by running well after confirming he’s still competitive when running well under top-weight in a handicap at Cheltenham.
Coneygree is the key to this race as, provided he hasn’t lost too much toe at the grand old age of 11, a three-mile chase with this guy is run at a pace many can’t go, which exposes poor jumpers.
I think he’ll definitely make the running and take some of the stayers out of their comfort zones, forcing jumping errors, and the three on my shortlist who will have no issues travelling prominently at a strong gallop are Might Bite, Politologue and Bristol De Mai.
Bristol De Mai probably is a decent value bet at 8/1 and is likely to be overpriced after winning his second Betfair Chase, but I can’t trust him to back that up at Kempton, where the fences take far less jumping than Haydock.
There’s every chance he’ll improve for his first run of the season but then similar comments can be applied to all three of them, and I can’t shake the feeling that when his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies says he’s easy to get fit, he will have been a step ahead of the rest in the Betfair Chase.
It’s just gone 10am on the morning of the race and POLITOLOGUE has eased a little to 6/1, which I’m going to take along with the best price of 9/2 about MIGHT BITE.
I can’t split them so rather than double my stake with an each-way bet I’m taking two from the field.
1pt win Might Bite @9/2, 15:05 Kempton, Wednesday (Betfred)
1pt win Politologue @6/1, 15:05 Kempton, Wednesday (Marathon Bet)