Ian Ogg: King George
No opposing favourite at Kempton
By Ian Ogg. Last Updated: 14/01/11 1:49pm
Kauto Star: Can delight his followers once again
Ian Ogg's horse-by-horse guide to the William Hill King George VI Chase.
Second in 2008 but only sixth last year. Not at his best (possibly due to the ground) on his reappearance at Aintree but was in the process of running a better race against Master Minded at Ascot when taking a pearler. Has been abandoned by McCoy, needs to put that fall behind him and wouldn't want the ground to come up soft.
Wonderful servant to connections but perennial bridesmaid and his head carriage didn't entirely convince (for the first time it must be said) when failing to make the most of a decent opportunity at Cheltenham last time. Tries this trip for the first time and is related to a winner over this distance.
Highest rated chaser in training who has won the last four renewals by a combined total of 63 lengths. He has never looked in danger of losing in a race that brings out the best in him and he showed no ill effects from a heavy fall in the Gold Cup when readily brushing aside the opposition at Down Royal on his seasonal reappearance.
Billed as the young pretender to the crown when translating his smart French form to Britain when impressing in the Feltham on this card 12 months ago. Easy to pick holes in that race and in his jumping which has never been fluent. One school of thought believes he may be better suited by this track than Cheltenham but he has a mountain to climb on the figures. For all that he remains a horse of considerable potential.
Madison Du Berlais
Finished second last season, albeit 36 lengths behind Kauto Star, but failed to match that form in three subsequent starts. Ran as though retaining his ability over hurdles on his return only to depart at the fourth in the Hennessy at Newbury. Has a good course record but remains to be seen whether he can still compete at this level.
Faded to finish a tired fourth 12 months ago when paying the price for going toe to toe with Ollie Magern up front before trying to match strides with Kauto Star. Looked better than ever in the Charlie Hall before running respectably in the Betfair Chase at a track that didn't suit on ground that was softer than ideal. Will relish a return to this venue.
Planet Of Sound
Showed improved form on first run at this trip when winning Punchestown Grade One in April. That form can be knocked but he ran a satisfactory race on his return in the Betfair Chase on ground that was softer than ideal. This track will suit better, he has the potential to progress further but underfoot conditions are, again, a concern.
More questions than answers at the end of last term following a peculiar run in the Arkle and a below par run at Punchestown. Bounced back with an impressive win over two miles five on his return to take his course record to four wins from four starts but faces his most demanding task to date over a trip that he's far from certain to stay.
Took his tally to three out of four over fences when producing a career best in a Down Royal Grade Two over two and a half miles on his return. Bred to stay this far and the softer the ground the better but has an inordinate amount to prove at this level although his trainer has been upbeat about his chances and market support has been strong.
Summary:Age doesn't appear to have caught up with KAUTO STAR as he was sufficiently impressive when winning the JNWine.com Champion Chase. In any respect, he has upwards of 22lbs in hand of his rivals on official figures so could run well below his best and still win comfortably.
This race has always brought out the best of him and it's difficult to envisage any result other than another convincing victory. If the odds don't appeal then winning margin markets should be considered whilst the forecast dividends could be rewarding if as expected Nacarat and Planet Of Sound chase him home.