Politologue Can Land 10th King George for Nicholls
December 19, 2018
Ditcheat handler Paul Nicholls has won the King George VI Chase on nine different occasions thanks to the exploits of Kauto Star and Silviniaco Conti, but this Christmas, he can add the elusive 10th with Politologue.
The Boxing Day feature at Kempton Park has long been a festive jaunt for Nicholls, but not since 2014 has he gone there and returned to Manor Farm Stables in success. Politologue though, can end that barren spell.
The loveable grey has long been a flag bearer for the 10-time Champion National Hunt trainer and proved his class on the very highest stage last season, by beating Fox Norton in the Tingle Creek at Sandown, and then Min in the Melling Chase at Aintree.
His victory at Sandown came over 1m7½f, before he was stepped up to 2m4f at Aintree. That was proof he had more stamina in the locker than first thought, planting the seed for a shot at the three-mile division this season.
That opportunity comes for the first time at Kempton this Christmas, but there’s reason to believe it isn’t a complete stab in the dark. After all, his trainer knows exactly what it takes to win there.
Politologue’s first outing of the new campaign came when winning the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot, over 2m5f, a race where he stayed on well. That’s the furthest he’s gone since scoring over the same course and distance back in December 2016, something which pleased owner John Hales and his dream of a Gold Cup winner one day.
Whether or not that becomes a possibility with Politiologue is a question that will be a lot closer to being answered come Boxing Day afternoon. The 3m trip around Kempton is certainly a lot less testing than that around the undulating Cheltenham, and with an engine like that of Politologue’s you can understand why Hales is getting excited.
He told the Racing Post, “I’d have thought two miles and five furlongs around Ascot was similar to three miles at Kempton and they’ll go quicker at Kempton, which is what he wants and it’ll suit him.
“I think we’ve got a great chance in the King George and I had a good bet on him on the way down to Ascot. I got 16-1 each-way which is a good bet.”
Politologue has also got a strong bit of form in the bag, at least this season, where he is the only one from the top four in the betting to get a win on the board.
Hot favourite, Might Bite, completely blew up in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last time and has a point to prove, despite finishing 2nd in the Gold Cup in March.
The same goes for Waiting Patiently, who was seen to great effect at the start of 2018 when winning at Kempton and Ascot, but injury ruled him out of the Spring festivals and it remains to be seen as to whether his quality is still on the upward curve.
One who is a bit more solid is Native River. The Gold Cup winner returned with a runner-up effort to Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, but that was a track that was never going to suit and the same could very much be said about Kempton, where he was a distant 3rd on his only visit in 2015.
In my book, that delivers Politologue as the value pick with winning form and race fitness included. Throw into the mix two wins at Kempton, and you might just be looking at the 2018 King George VI Chase winner.
Here are the bookmakers offering the best King George Chase odds
As a qualified sports journalist, Luke has worked with nationally-recognised outlets covering events from the World Cup to the Grand National. Luke is one of the few men who has to admit that their father was the better footballer, but at least he can take comfort from the fact he got to see his Dad score at Wembley. When Luke isn’t talking football, you’ll normally find him following his other passion, horse racing and has his own horses in training with Paul Nicholls and Mark Johnston.