The annual post-Christmas Day Grade 1 National Hunt chase at Kempton Park looks set to be another cracker this year, despite some notable absentees. There's no doubt last year's winner of the 32Red sponsored race, Cue Card, will start as the favourite in many people's eyes, but will he have things all his own way?
Before delving into the latest King George odds, let's take moment to consider what the race is all about. Run over a distance of three miles, this Grade 1 National Hunt steeplechase is considered one of the best in the world thanks to its fences. With 18 obstacles to overcome and often some tough weather conditions, the King George VI is only for the very best.
Given how tough it is, this race is considered a precursor and only second in prestige to the Cheltenham Gold Cup. With this in mind, the top trainers in the horse racing industry often save their best for this race and that's resulted in some high profile winners over the years. In fact, since it was first run in 1937, there have been 14 horses with two wins or more.
When it comes to horse racing betting, it's evident form counts. Whether it's the form of a trainer, a jockey, a horse or even the race itself, previous results matter. In our horse racing betting guide, it’s listed as number one point to consider when sizing up a race – and the King George VI Chase is no exception.
When you consider that this race has seen 14 horses win more than twice, you'll start to see why form is important. Kauto Star is currently the most successful winner with five first-place finishes, while Ruby Walsh and Paul Nicholls are the top jockey and trainer respectively. Although these facts won't have a direct bearing on the 2016 race, it does highlight how previous form is important in a race of this magnitude.
Since we know that previous winners can return and do big things in the King George VI Chase, it would be sensible to consider Cue Card's chances this year. After a dominant performance in 2015, the 10-year-old only has one close rival in Paddy Power's betting stakes and that's Thistlecrack at 7/4.
However, with trainer CL Tizzard unsure if Cue Card's stalemate will run the race, it's up to Coneygree to stand as second favourite at 5/1. With this being the case, few are giving the outsiders much of a chance, despite their obvious class. Indeed, when Cue Card won in 2015 he was pushed by Vautour and Al Ferof, neither of which will be running this time out.
Despite these absentees, things certainly aren't a lock for Cue Card. Although he beat Coneygree into second at Haydock in November, that was only his second win from five in 2016. Admittedly, one of those losses was due to a fall in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but even this shows PJ Brennan's horse can make mistakes.
If he slips at Kempton Park, it could leave the door open for an outsider. While many will see Coneygree as the horse to bolt for that opening, Douvan is hovering at 10/1 with Paddy Power. With ten runs and ten wins, this six-year-old is certainly one for the future.
There's also a chance Walsh will ride him again (he's led him in seven of ten races), which is certainly promising given his previous form in the race. Going back further, Tea For Two may just be the each-way bet of the day. Coming in from 20/1 to 16/1 at Paddy Power, the young horse has proven it has the potential to tough it out in big races and that could help on 26th December.
Although he's a long way from beating Cue Card in terms of class, he can certainly hold the distance and should be on form come race time. What's more, with the course likely to become heavy at best, this may suit Tea For Two who has show he can plod along in poor conditions. If some of the better horses start to falter, expect this one to be right up there in a place position come the end of the race.
As ever, there's a chance to extract some extra value from the market through a combination of promotions and race deals. At present, Paddy Power hasn't given away what extras it might offer for the King George, but you can still get £30 in free bets as a new customer.
Create an account and make a deposit today and you'll be eligible for the offer. Simply bet £10 on any valid event and you'll get £30 in bonus bets that can be used on this year's King George VI Chase. With the race being a close one to call if Cue Card isn't on form, these free credits could be your best way to bet on an outsider and make a healthy post-Christmas return on your investment!