The King George VI Chase, more than any other major jumps race, achieves an impressive balance in demanding both speed and stamina from its contenders, making it tricky to choose between the claims of Cyrname and Lostintranslation, both tackling the race for the first time. But the impression remains that Cyrname did not want to go much further when he triumphed over Altior last month and the extra three furlongs he faces at Kempton will be a serious test for a headstrong animal.
Some have questioned whether Lostintranslation (3.05) has the pace to cope well with a strongly run King George but he regularly ran well at shorter trips last season, against a horse who is now a top-class two-miler. His superb fencing will help him and it is easy to imagine him outstaying most of these rivals in the straight. Thistlecrack, his stablemate at Colin Tizzard’s yard, can also go well. Clan Des Obeaux has something to prove after three consecutive defeats but these conditions certainly showed him to advantage a year ago.
1.20 Kempton It has been a quiet start to the season for Tom George, at least until Saturday’s Grade One triumph, but Doctor Dex has been serving him well and can do so again here. He bumped into a rival running the race of their life when second here last month, a race in which he was the only hold-up runner to make much impact. This hotter contest may work out better for him.
1.55 Kempton Paul Nicholls fields two hugely promising youngsters for this renewal of the Kauto Star, but Master Tommytucker and Danny Whizzbang lack the experience of a couple of their rivals and that may tell. Black Op gave Champ a run for his money at Newbury and is respected but Tizzard’s Slate House is hard to get away from. He seemed on the point of winning Cheltenham’s BetVictor Gold Cup Chase when knuckling over two-out last month and that is classy form in this context.
2.10 Wetherby An 11lb rise is not to be sneered at but Bennys King impressed in pulling clear of a packed field for the Peter O’Sullevan Memorial last time. He was short of peak fitness on his only defeat since joining Dan Skelton and can improve again for this step up in distance. Skelton won this race two years ago.
2.30 Kempton Fusil Raffles has been the talking horse at Seven Barrows but the form of his Wincanton win last month is not the strongest on offer here. He will face a stern challenge from his stablemate Epatante, so impressive in landing the Gerry Feilden and disappointing only at Cheltenham since arriving from France.