All the Christmas presents may have been opened by Boxing Day, but the greatest gift for all National Hunt fans will be a vintage renewal of the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Saturday afternoon and here we aim to point you in the right direction of the winner in our big-race preview.
Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree's absence may have left a huge hole in other races, but this Grade 1 renewal is stacked to the brim with quality and it's Gordon Elliott's Don Cossack who is the current 9/4 favourite with Paddy Power to bag victory.
Cossack Ready To Down Vautour In Big One
A mutliple Graded winner last season, the eight-year-old's only blot on his copybook was a third place finish in the Ryanair Chase, but having won the JNWine.com Champion Chase with aplomb earlier in the season he sets the standard here and is certainly the one to beat.
Vautour was sublime when trouncing his rivals in the JLT Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and Willie Mullins' charge is available at 11/4 with BetVictor, and he will be aiming to build on his Stella Artois 1965 Chase win at Ascot last time out.
However, there are still some questions about his stamina over this gruelling three-mile trip and he's sure to be hassled for the lead by Hennessy Gold Cup champion Smad Place (9/1) and that pair could well set it up for the smooth-travelling Don Cossack, who could well outclass them both in the last couple of furlongs.
Hat-Trick-Seeking Conti To Find It Tough To Beat Cue Card
Silviniaco Conti (9/1) is aiming to hand Paul Nicholls a sensational tenth win in the King George and the dual winner can't be discounted in a race he has dominated over the last two seasons, but he was blown out of sight by Colin Tizzard's Cue Card in the Betfair Chase last time out and it could be that raider who flies the flag for the home brigade here.
Cue Card was instantly slashed for this prize after his seven-length Haydock Park romp and if he can repeat that effort then has to be a major player at 7/2 with Sky Bet, but whilst he could have the number of Silviniaco Conti, he may struggle to deal with the class of Don Cossack, and if the gallop is a fierce one then Cue Card could well empty out in similar fashion to last year where he was spent jumping the last fence.
Smad Aims To Be In Right Place, As Al Ferof Adds More Depth
Smad Place's aforementioned Hennessy win was arguably one of the most visually impressive displays of this campaign, but Alan King's heart-on-his-sleeve grey will find it tough to dominate now out of the handicap sphere and with this race somewhat of an after-thought by the Barbury Castle team then he could struggle.
Dan Skelton will aim to bag his first King George success and he saddles Al Ferof, who kicked off his season with a fine win in the Peterborough Chase, and at 16/1 could be many punter's idea of an each-way player, but he has often come unstuck at the very highest level over fences and he will have to deal with minor honours in a race that can head back to Ireland in the shape of Don Cossack.