15:10 William Hill King George VI Chase
This is a fascinating renewal of the King George and a solid case can be made for a many as six of the nine runners to win this.
Don Cossack is the highest rated in the race at 175 and comes in as favourite. He has won both starts this season in convincing fashion whilst heavily odds on and was impressive in his final two races of last season as well. At Aintree he beat Cue Card and Al Ferof by a huge distance although that was over two and a half miles. He was however disappointing at the festival in March in the Ryanair Chase coming third to horses that in my opinion are below top class. That defeat coupled with wins this year against poor opposition means for me he has a lot to prove still and is too short in the market for what he has done so far.
The Willie Mullins trained Vautour is a horse I really like and he was mightily impressive in the JLT at Cheltenham in March when he routed the field. He was made to work for victory in his one race so far this season when beating Ptit Zig for a little over a length. He was receiving five pounds from Ptit Zig that day so it wasn't a particularly impressive performance and although he can be expected to come on plenty for that performance, he is going to need to be right out of the top drawer to win this today. It is not a given that he stays three miles and the ground is definitely going to be on the soft side as well. There is almost certainly going to be a really strong pace as well with Smad Place and Silviniaco Conti sure to fly along in front and I am not sure Vautour will have enough to stay with them and then pass them.
Smad Place set a ferocious pace in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and won by twelve lengths against a good quality field. He was foot perfect at every fence that day and was still going strong at the end. He has the tendency to jump a little right handed but that shouldn't really be a problem here at Kempton and although this is a big step up in class, if he repeats that performance I think he could have a few of these in trouble inside the last mile. I think he is sure to have company for the lead as Conti will be right up with the pace and it will be important that they don't burn each other out.
Silviniaco Conti for Paul Nicholls and was super impressive when beating Dynaste by over four lengths last year. He continues to disappoint going left handed around Cheltenham but came out and won a decent race at Aintree in April with Smad Place well behind. In the Betfair Chase at Haydock he jumped brilliantly but was firmly put in his place by Cue Card and although there were murmurs that he wasn't quite right that day, it is hard to see him reversing the form here. I think there is a chance the blinkers maybe put on him today to straighten him up a little but I thought his jumping was excellent and he was just beaten by a better horse on the day.
Cue Card has a massively disappointing season last time but he clearly had problems which were hindering him. He was beaten heavily by Don Cossack in two races at the end of last season so has a lot to find with the favourite. This season he has looked a totally different horse however and routed a very strong field in the Betfair Chase and looks a far more relaxed horse this year. This means his jumping has also improved and I'm convinced this race is going to be set up perfectly for him. With Silviniaco Conti and Smad Place setting a fast pace Paddy Brennan will be able to sit just in behind and wait for the right time to make his move. I expect him to take up the running before the second last and have Don Cossack for company. Any rain will be a hindrance for the Gigginstown horse but Cue Card won't mind it one bit and I am confident he will come out on top in what is sure to be a wonderful race to watch.
Altior for Nicky Henderson is as short as 14/1 for the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and is chasing a four timer here today. He looks a decent prospect and beat the useful Maputo in a good quality race at Cheltenham last time out.
Open Eagle for Willie Mullins is highly thought of but from what we have seen of him so far a lot more give in the ground would be preferred and there's a chance he may get outpaced on the good to soft ground that we have today.
Sam Twiston-Davies rides Marrcudja instead of Simon Squirrel this time and he was extremely impressive when winning last time out at Wincanton. The form of that race doesn't looked particularly good however and this is a very big step up in class.
Kempton 15:10 - Cue Card - 2 points @ 9/2 (Paddy Power)
Kempton 12:50 - Altior - 3 points @ 6/4 (Bet365)