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King George VI Chase: Dates, runners, history & more

The King George VI Chase is the centrepiece of the Christmas racing programme in Britain, lighting up Kempton Park on its Boxing Day slot. 

The Grade 1 three-miler has a wonderful and storied history, won by some of the true greats of National Hunt racing, and is widely regarded as the mid-season championship event for staying chasers.

Winners of the King George VI Chase are often targeted at the Cheltenham Gold Cup later in the season.

King George VI Chase date

The King George VI Chase is the centrepiece of Kempton's two-day Christmas Festival and takes place on the first afternoon - Boxing Day. 

This year the Kempton fixture is set for Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th December. The King George VI Chase is scheduled to go off at 2.30 on day one.

King George VI Chase venue 

The King George VI Chase takes places at Kempton Park and is the biggest race in the calendar for the Sunbury-on-Thames venue.

Kempton is located just 16 miles south-west of central London and is the closest racecourse to England's capital. 

It also stages Grade 1s on 26th December via the Christmas Hurdle and the Kauto Star Novices' Chase, while on the 27th December the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase is the headline race.

Kempton hosts all-weather racing on their Polytrack all year round and National Hunt action through the winter and into spring.

King George VI Chase how to watch 

The King George VI Chase can be watched via the bet365 Sports Live Streaming platform, alongside every race from the UK and Ireland. 

The two-day Kempton Christmas meeting is shown live on ITV Racing, with selected races from across both days on terrestrial television, including the King George itself.

Every race from Kempton Park, meanwhile, is also shown live on subscription channel Racing TV. 

King George VI Chase details 

The King George VI Chase is a Grade 1 steeplechase run over three miles and open to horses of four years and older. There are 18 fences to be negotiated on the journey around Kempton's right-handed circuit. 

The event was first run in February 1937, and it was named in honour of the new British monarch, King George VI. It is considered the biggest staying chase prize run in Britain before the New Year in each season.

Given the nature of Kempton, which is a very flat track, the King George is often viewed as a relative test of speed over the three-mile trip, much more so than the Cheltenham Gold Cup, for example.

King George VI Chase history 

Desert Orchid is the horse most synonymous with Kempton and this race, the grey winning in 1986, before a hat-trick of successes between 1988 and 1990. 'Dessie' is immortalised with a statue at Kempton.

He is, though, no longer the record holder, as the brilliant Kauto Star made the race his own with four wins from 2006 onwards for Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh, before bringing down the house when winning again in 2011 aged 11, as he beat defending champion Long Run.

Mill House (1963) and Arkle (1965) were also King George winners, while Wayward Lad won three in the 1980s.

Other dual winners include One Man, See More Business, Kicking King, Long Run, Silviniaco Conti and Clan Des Obeaux, while few winners were more popular than Cue Card in 2015 as he flew home from the last to thwart Vautour in the final stride for Colin Tizzard and Paddy Brennan.

King George VI Chase most successful trainer 

Paul Nicholls has established himself as the man to beat in this Christmas showpiece, with Britain's perennial champion trainer having won the King George an incredible 13 times. 

The Ditcheat supremo counts See More Business (1997, 1999), Kauto Star (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011), Silviniaco Conti (2013, 2014), Clan Des Obeaux (2018, 2019) and Frodon (2020) amongst his winners, while in 2022 he once more took out the big festive target with Bravemansgame.

King George VI Chase most successful jockey

Through his alliance with Nicholls and the mighty Kauto Star, Ruby Walsh became the winning-most rider in King George history. The Irishman was on board for all five of King Kauto's wins in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.

Walsh came close to a sixth win in 2015 as Vautour moved stylishly with a handsome lead into the home straight and looked sure to win, only for the rallying Cue Card under Paddy Brennan to get back up and deny them by a head on the line. 

King George VI Chase Runners

The defending champion Bravemansgame is 11/4 to retain his mantle in a race Nicholls has always maintained is made for him.

He must, however, banish memories of defeats in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and the Betfair Chase on his first two starts of the season if he is to hold sway on Boxing Day again.

Irish winners of the King George have been infrequent, with surprise 2021 scorer Tornado Flyer the only one since Kicking King in 2005, but Gordon Elliott's Gerri Colombe casts a long shadow on this race now at 5/2 after his trainer hinted it will be his festive target.

He's only been beaten once over fences, when a rallying second in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase at Cheltenham in March and has already won a Grade 1 in Ireland this season at Down Royal.

Allaho, dual winner of the Ryanair Chase, returned from a long absence to win at Clonmel in November and is 10/3 to give Willie Mullins his third King George success after Florida Pearl (2001) and Tornado Flyer.

Royal Pagaille is 8/1 for Venetia Williams after defeating Bravemansgame last month at Haydock, though this speedy track presents a different challenge and he was well held in second last year. 

The Real Whacker is the only horse to beat Gerri Colombe over fences and a 10/1 chance for Patrick Neville here, though he was pulled up at Cheltenham in November on his comeback run.

Perhaps most intriguing of all is Shishkin at 8/1 for Nicky Henderson. He looked to really relish the three miles at Aintree in the spring in his win there and this race was pinpointed straight away.

He did, though, refuse to race at Ascot last month in his intended comeback and the Seven Barrows chief has frustratingly been unable to get a prep run since.

Shishkin is very capable when fresh and a danger to all if he's in the mood. 

Any odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and are subject to fluctuation.

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