Today (26 December), we will be treated to the sight of some of the greatest National Hunt horses currently in training in the UK going head-to-head in the King George VI Chase, a horse race which has become synonymous to Boxing Day.
Here are 13 things you need to know about this great race…
1. The King George VI Chase first ran in 1937 and was named after the newly crowned king.
2. The first race was won by Southern Hero who, to-date, remains the oldest winner of the race at 12 years old.
3. It is held during the Christmas Festival at Kempton Park Racecourse in Surrey.
4. It is run over a distance of three miles and consists of 18 chase fences.
5. It was only run twice before World War II, during which Kempton Park was closed for racing and used as a prisoner-of-war camp.
6. The race also forms part of the Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown which offers a £1m bonus to any horse that can win the Betfair Chase, Ladbrokes King George VI Chase and Magners Gold Cup. The cash bonus will be awarded alongside The Kauto Star Trophy, named in honour of the great chaser who achieved the feat in 2006/7.
7. The most successful horse to run in the King George VI is Kauto Star (pictured top alongside Long Run), who won it a remarkable five times (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011).
8. The leading jockey of the King George VI Chase is Ruby Walsh, who won it five times — all aboard Kauto Star.
9. The leading trainer over the race’s history is Paul Nicholls — See More Business (1997, 1999), Kauto Star (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011), Silviniaco Conti (2013, 2014), Clan Des Obeaux (2018, 2019).
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10. The great grey, Desert Orchid won the race four times before bowing out in the 1991 race. He still appeared at Kempton Park every Boxing Day after this though as he paraded every year until his death in 2006, aged 27.
11. It is a Grade One race and this year offers £116,178 in prize money to the winner.
12. The race will be shown live on ITV and RTV at 3pm.
13. The current betting market for the 2020 running of the race cannot separate last season’s first and second Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname, while Gold Cup second and third Santini and Lostintranslation will also feature in a top-class line up.
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