When it comes to Christmas there is only one race on the minds of National Hunt racing fans and that is of course the King George VI Chase at Kempton. The Boxing Day renewal is one of the highlights of the festive period when it comes to sport and it remains the second most important chase of the season behind the Gold Cup. There has been plenty of rain rain about over the past few days and with more forecasted before the race we can expect testing conditions at Kempton. All eyes are on Long Run who won the race two years ago and will start as the warm favourite to win his second King George this time around. The Nicky Henderson horse is of course also a former Gold Cup winner and should be more than happy on soft ground having started his career over in France. No one can doubt the class of Long Run but he is by no means a rock solid favourite having coming unstuck a few times recently including in this race last year when he chased home the great Kauto Star. He stayed on well to finish second that day and most believe a repeat of that run this year should be good enough with no Kauto Star in the field.
As always the King George VI Chase will act as a key Gold Cup trial race and along with Long Run there are a number of other horses to consider before having a bet. One horse who is stepping up in trip to three miles for the first time is Cue Card who is coming off of a great win in the Haldon Gold Cup last time out. His form behind Sprinter Sacre over two miles looks rock solid and if he gets the trip he will be a major threat. Another one to keep an eye on is Kauto Stone who is most famous for being the younger half brother to the aforementioned Kauto Star. He is also trained by Paul Nicholls and should have no problem in the conditions making him an attractive bet for many punters despite the fact he will have to produce a career best to win. He has come in for a little bit of money in recent days while the same can be said of Riverside Theatre who won the Ryanair Chase back in March at Cheltenham and always runs best when fresh. He finished third in the King George a couple of years ago, he should have no problem with the trip and has been trained specifically for Kempton making him an attractive proposition. There is no doubt that Long Run will start a justified favourite but he will have to deal with a number of progressive chasers and their connections who will be eager to take his crown.