Looking Ahead to the 2011 King George Chase
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Looking Ahead to the 2011 King George Chase

 

It's good to be back and staring down another edition of the National Hunt as we see more horses going over obstacles now that the flat business peters out between the Arc meeting and British Champions Day. It looks to be a season of change with a new generation set to make their statement and maybe a few will make that big grasp towards legendary status that we've seen with the likes of Kauto Star and Big Buck's over the past few years.

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A number of the big names are still around and back for another kick at the can this season but much of the attention will be paid towards the up-and-comers as the five, six and seven-year-olds look to have the best chance of making headlines.

Long Run is obviously the big gelding on campus and his Cheltenham Gold Cup victory will serve as his statement for the entirety of this year. He is 18 runs into his career, which started with a lengthy spate of contests at Auteil, and has never finished off the board. His first attempt at Cheltenham saw him finish third to Weapon's Amnesty in the RSA Chase before vaulting forward and taking the Gold Cup off two solitary prep runs.

The stand-out in that group was his 12 length victory over Riverside Theatre and a certain Kauto Star in the King George VI Chase that was rescheduled several times from its original boxing day date and run on January 15 at Kempton. It was a big statement to make and he followed it up after a three month break to conquer the best chasers on the planet in the Gold Cup.

He is pointed that way again and bookmakers have him at just above evens for the Boxing Day showpiece this year. The best you can do is about 6/4 and he will be much lower on the day. At the moment, Master Minded is viewed as the leading challenger with a price hovering around 4/1 to 6/1 with Riverside Theatre coming back with a 6/1 to 10/1 range.

Captain Chris also had a breakout season last year and he's emerging as a very plausible contender on the Grade 1 circuit. Look for him around 9/1 at the moment, but expect a 4/1 price and a position as second-favourite if he goes into the contest healthy and in-form.

Expect several of the Novembe contests to set the tone for the King George VI, but don't expect Long Run to have a go unless he genuinely needs it.