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Nic Ladds 22nd Dec 2008 - 12:52

History lesson - King George VI Chase

The King George VI Chase is one of the most coveted races of the season second in stature only to the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Kempton Park was unveiled as a racecourse in 1878 and was the brainchild of SH Hyde, a 19th century businessman and Tory party agent.

In 1937 the King George VI Chase was run for the first time and named in honour of the new monarch.

The race back then was not as prestigious as it is now with very small prize money and as it was originally held in February most horses were aimed at the Gold Cup and Grand National, which were soon after.

So for the first running only four runners took their place with the victor being Southern Hero the joint 5/4 favourite.

The race was only run once more before World War II when Kempton was shut down to become a prisoner-of-war camp.

With the war over the King George VI was run again in 1947 on Boxing Day. In 1948 the race was won by Gold Cup winner Cottage Rake who was trained by the great Victor O'Brien.

The race immediately rose in stature and in 1949 was televised for the first time and his since been won by some of the greatest, most famous horses in history.

The roll of honour includes Arkle, Desert Orchid (a four time winner), One Man (won it twice), Best Mate and most recently Paul Nicholls' Kauto Star who has won it for the last two years.

With Kauto Star lining up again this year against some his old rivals and prize money of over £125,000 this is likely to be another classic renewal of the great race and will give us an excellent idea about some of the main contenders' Gold Cup prospects.

Year

Winner

SP

Age

Jockey

Trainer

2007

Kauto Star

4/6

7

Ruby Walsh

Paul Nicholls

2006

Kauto Star

8/13

6

Ruby Walsh

Paul Nicholls

2005

Kicking King

11/8

7

Barry Geraghty

Tom Taafe

2004

Kicking King

3/1

6

Barry Geraghty

Tom Taafe

2003

Edredon Bleu

25/1

11

Jim Culloty

Henrietta Knight

2002

Best Mate

11/8

7

Tony McCoy

Henrietta Knight

2001

Florida Pearl

8/1

9

Adrian Maguire

Willie Mullins

2000

First Gold

5/2

7

Thierry Doumen

Francois Doumen

1999

See More Business

5/2

9

Mick Fitzgerald

Paul Nicholls

1998

Teeton Mill

7/2

9

Norman Williamson

Venetia Williams

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