The Duke on the King George - The Gambling Times

The Duke on the King George

Might Bite is the one they all have to beat, but watch out for the bigger priced Whisper and Tea For Two who both have good each-way claims. Bristol de Mai may not like the ground, Fox Norton has to answer questions about the trip and Thistlecrack has to prove his wellbeing.

1 Bristol De Mai – Highly impressive when winning the Betfair Chase on heavy ground. It is worth bearing in mind the race was one of the weakest renewals of the contest in recent memory, but he is clearly in form having also won the Charlie Hall Chase. He is progressive and likely to be one of the main players in this division this season. The chink in his armour? He probably wants soft ground, which he may not get in the King George.

2 Double Shuffle – Has raced well at Kempton before and the return to three miles is likely to be right up his street. He won’t have any issues with the ground, but he probably lacks the underlying ability to win, as the lowest rated horse in the contest.

3 Fox Norton – Very classy over shorter distances than this, he came within a head of landing the Queen Mother Champion Chase in March. He has won two Grade 1s this year and he is in good form having won the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham and finishing within half a length of the winner as runner-up in the Tingle Creek at Sandown. The big question mark is the trip. Nobody knows how he will handle the three miles, but I have had the conversation in recent years with people like Sir AP McCoy and Mick Fitzgerald, that in the King George you need a horse who has tactical speed. If he has the stamina, Fox Norton could play a huge part in the race.

4 Might Bite – Was all set to win the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at this meeting last year, but for falling at the last with the race in the bag. He would have won that by half the length of the straight if he’d stayed on his feet. I know they did some extra work with his jumping and since then, Nicky Henderson’s very promising chaser has won the two big Grade 1 staying chases at both Cheltenham Festival and Aintree’s Grand National meeting. He made a good return at Sandown and should be cherry ripe for this. The only concern you might have is what’s between his head. He is quirky and sometimes lacks concentration, but he will love the trip and ground and I think he’s the most likely winner.

5 Tea For Two – Has an excellent record at Kempton and is often underestimated in the market. His best moment of 2017 came at Aintree when landing the Betway Bowl Chase ahead of Cue Card. He has been well held in two races so far this season, but he often takes time to get fit, so I wouldn’t dwell on that for too long. I suspect this is his big goal for the season and at long odds he has an each-way chance.

6 Thistlecrack – A star over hurdles who made a fantastic transition to chasing last season, including a win in this race. He has not been the same horse since getting a tendon injury and he was beaten comprehensively at Newbury over hurdles on his return. At his best, he would probably be the one to beat, but there are some serious question marks about his wellbeing and whether he is the same horse that we saw last season. He’s also not getting any younger. While I’d love to see him back to his best, I have some reservations.

7 Traffic Fluide –Wears a first time visor and this would need to work some minor miracles to see him win this race. He hasn’t won since March 2015 and the trip is a big question mark too.

8 Whisper – A Grade 1 winning hurdler who has shown some promise over fences. He has form that ties him in very closely to Might Bite and he will enjoy the trip and ground. Given he’s much bigger odds than Might Bite, he’s likely to attract each-way supporters and after running very well at Newbury in one of the biggest handicaps of the season, I wouldn’t put anyone off him.

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