King George VI Chase Betting

Second only to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in terms of prestige, the King George VI Chase is a Grade 1 National Hunt chase for horses aged four years or older. It is run on Boxing Day each year at Kempton Park, which is in Sunbury-on-Thames, Middlesex, a western suburb of London about sixteen miles from the city centre. The distance covered is three miles (4,828 metres), with eighteen fences to be jumped in total.

The Chase was first run in 1937 to commemorate the ascension of the new British monarch, King George VI. Meetings were initially scheduled for February, but following World War II, when racing resumed in 1947 after an eight-year hiatus, the date was moved to the day after Christmas.

In 2009, bookmaker william hill signed a four-year contract to sponsor the race, succeeding Stan James, who had backed the event since 2005. The deal included naming rights to the whole of Kempton’s two-day Christmas meeting, which is now known as the william hill Winter Festival.

Many Repeat Winners

The first two pre-War runnings of the King George VI Chase featured only four runners. Southern Hero won the inaugural meeting and has remained the race’s oldest ever winner. Today the race usually features a dozen contenders, with four-year-olds weighing in at 11-stone-3 and the older entries at 11-stone-10. There is a 7-pound allowance for fillies and mares. Winning times come in around six minutes, and only one horse over the age of nine has finished first in the past twenty years—eleven-year-old Edredon Bleu on a rainy day in 2003.

During the post-War era, several horses have captured the prize twice, including Mandarin, Wayward Lad, French gelding The Fellow, One Man, and Irish gelding Kicking King, among others. However, two steeds have dominated with four wins apiece—Desert Orchid in 1986 and again in 1988~1990, followed by the indomitable Kauto Star in 2006~2009 and contending for a fifth in 2010. For the 2009 running of the King George VI Chase, Kauto Star was the heavy favourite at 8/13. In 2010, ante-post wagers were being taken on the champion at 7/4.

Jockeys Richard Dunwoody and Ruby Walsh have each rode to victory here four times. Trainer Paul Nicholls has been to the winner’s circle six times and shows no sign of ending his record there. The purse for the King George VI Chase has increased over the years and now totals some £zero,000. In 2009, a little over £114,000 of it went to the winner.

Racing at Kempton Park

The grounds at Kempton Park cover 210 acres. The main racecourse used for jump racing is perfectly flat and triangular. The right-handed turf track measures one mile and five furlongs, which includes a demanding three and a half furlong straight run-in. Kempton Park is also suited to flat racing, thanks to the addition of a floodlit Polytrack synthetic course in 2006, which has greatly enhanced the venue for evening events all year round.

The William Hill Winter Festival lasts two days, from the 26th to the 27th of December, with six or seven races per fixture. The jump racing includes the Desert Orchid Steeple Chase, inaugurated in 2006, in addition to the main event. Extracurricular events surrounding the racing range from hen & stag parties to dining and dancing in the company of the many noted celebrities who attend.

The gates Kempton Park open at 10am on race days. Tickets start at just £13. General admission entitles race-goers access to the Premier Suite on the first floor of the main Grandstand, which features a real ale bar, the Bistro Restaurant, a betfred Betting Shop, and the Tote Betting Area, as well as access to the Parade and Betting Rings.

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