Boxing Day is all about Kempton Park and the King George if you live anywhere near the Sunbury track.
A wonderful day’s racing climaxes with the 32Red King George VI Chase (3.05pm), and what a race it has been over the years.
Kauto Star’s record fifth win in 2011 was absolutely breathtaking, while since then we’ve been blessed by Long Run, Silviniaco Conti, Cue Card and Thistlecrack.
Bad horses just don’t win the King George, the cream always rises to the top.
For me, that’s why I can’t see past favourite MIGHT BITE for this year’s prize, even though some would argue he’s too short a price based on what he’s achieved.
Every time I look at this race I think back to Nicky Henderson’s novice chaser 12 months ago.
He was about to land the Grade One Kauto Star Novices’ Chase in a faster time than Thistlecrack achieved in the King George, only to make a terrible mistake and fall at the final fence.
He certainly has his quirks, which were amplified when he nearly threw away the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March after hanging markedly to his left after the last.
Despite that he still managed to win, while he got the job done at both Aintree in April and Sandown in November on his reappearance.
The Betfair Chase looked the ideal race for Bristol De Mai beforehand and the King George looks exactly like Might Bite’s dream scenario.
I appreciate that he’s not rated as highly as a number of his rivals, but that’s because he hasn’t taken them on yet.
You could say the same about Thistlecrack last year, and Bristol De Mai before the Betfair Chase.
Henderson hasn’t been able to hide his admiration for this eight-year-old and I believe he can give his master trainer a third win in this great race after Long Run’s exploits.
It could actually be a one-two for Seven Barrows, as stablemate WHISPER cannot be ruled out after his excellent display in the Ladbrokes Trophy last month.
He comes into this two-nil down against his stablemate, but he seems an improved horse this season and can continue his excellent record over the larger obstacles.
In six starts over fences, this Grade One-winning hurdler is yet to finish out of the first two and he’s danced every dance.
If Might Bite stays on his feet, I don’t see him beating him, but I can easily see him finishing a highly respectable second.
I’m leaving Bristol De Mai out of the equation, even though I fancied the pants off him at Haydock.
He was clearly hugely impressive that day, but we’ve seen before that Haydock on deep ground suits him perfectly.
Every drop of rain between now and Tuesday’s race will help his cause, but he’s short enough now at 7/2 with 188BET.
Last year’s champion Thistlecrack has plenty of questions to answer after his injury and uninspiring reappearance, so the vote for third goes to his stable-mate FOX NORTON.
He couldn’t get the job done in the Tingle Creek, but three miles around Kempton may just eke out some serious improvement in him.
Tickets are still available for Kempton in the Premier, Paddock and Festival enclosures. They are selling fast, though, so visit Kempton.co.uk for an advance discount.
BILL ESDAILE’S KING GEORGE 1-2-3
1. Might Bite
3. Fox Norton