A total of 26 horses remain at the latest entry stage for the Grade 1 King George Chase at Kempton on December 26th. The list is topped by last year’s hero Thistlecrack who is the ante-post favourite alongside last year’s star novice Might Bite.
Thistlecrack put in a dazzling display en route to landing the £225,000 prize last season on only his fourth start over fences. That success put him at the top of the betting for last season’s Gold Cup before a tendon injury ended the nine-year-old’s season.
Might Bite was equally impressive on the same card last year before falling at the last fence with the race at his mercy. Much has been made of how he was set to clock a much faster time than the one recorded by Thistlecrack later that day and he went on to confirm that promise with a Grade 1 double at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals respectively.
Other notable entries include last year’s Gold Cup winner Sizing John and Willie Mullins’ superstar two miler Douvan. Jessica Harrington’s Gold Cup hero capped an incredible season with victory in the Punchestown Gold Cup to complete a Grade 1 hat-trick. Among the favourites for this season’s Gold Cup, he sets the standard to aim at this season.
One horse who Sizing John is used to seeing the rear end of is Douvan. The seven-year-old finished behind the Mullins horse on no fewer than seven occasions before he stepped up in trip and dominated the staying division. Douvan himself has won 14 of his 15 starts since he made the move to Ireland, with that sole defeat coming at last season’s Cheltenham Festival when a small stress fracture was said to be behind a lacklustre performance. Kempton’s flat track should suit Rich Ricci’s star on what would be his first start over any distance further than 2m1f.
In terms of the betting, Oddschecker users appear to be siding with Nicky Henderson’s Might Bite with the RSA winner responsible for just shy of 10% of all bets in the last 30 days. That puts him ahead of market rival Thistlecrack in second on 7% with Douvan third best with 5%.
Oddschecker spokesperson George Elek: Might Bite and Thistlecrack are set to be two of the stars of this National Hunt season, and a mouth watering contest loosk to be on the cards. It will be interesting to see how Douvan moves in the market, after rumours that the superstar chaser was to be retired were proven to be false.