King George VI Chase preview

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  • The three big runners of last year, Best Mate, Florida Pearl and Bacchanal are once again lined up to go head-to-head in Boxing Day’s Pertemps King George VI Chase at Kempton.

    Tony McCoy, the seven-times champion jockey is reunited with Best Mate, winner of this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, because regular partner Jim Culloty is suspended.

    Having ridden winner 199 at Ascot on Saturday, McCoy has wonderful prospects of writing yet another piece of history in his glorious career – but this time at the highest level.

    Last winter McCoy recorded the fastest 200 in a season on January 11. To make it on the top chaser in the most prestigious race outside the Cheltenham Festival will give cause for rare celebrations.

    They havea great chance of improving on last year when they finished second to Florida Pearl. Afterwards, McCoy came in and said he would have won if he had ridden Best Mate before.

    “We know he definitely stays and I’ll ride him a bit more like a stayer,” says McCoy. “Hopefully he should win, though Bacchanal is obviously a big danger.”

    Trainer Nicky Henderson views this as Bacchanal’s Gold Cup because his big-hearted stayer is so much better suited galloping right-handed round Kempton.

    Florida Pearl and the now retired Adrian Maguire did us a good turn in the King George last year and if Irish trainer Willie Mullins has him spot on again he will be a very serious threat to Best Mate. Florida Pearlcould be the one to spoil McCoy’s party.

    France’s Douze Douze chased home Best Mate in their last race at Huntingdon and if trainer Guillaume Macaire has improved his jumping in the meantime, Douze Douze could finish even closer to his rival.

    It promises to be a Christmas cracker of a King George and barring disaster, Best Mate looks the most promising.

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