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Nic Ladds 23rd Dec 2008 - 12:49

Kaut - short! Our Vic the value in festive feature

Paul Nicholls' Kauto Star is 5/4 favourite to record his third win in the great race in as many years.

Should Kauto Star pull off a third victory he will become only the third horse to do so the others being Wayward Lad and Desert Orchid who won it four times.

He has won the last two runnings of this great race so there are no questions about trip, ground or the course which he clearly loves.

Paul Nicholls will not accept second place after questions were raised about Kauto Star after he unseated Sam Thomas in his last appearance at Haydock.

The questions around whether he would have beaten subsequent winner Snoopy Loopy (who is 20/1 for the King George) were flying after the race.

We will never know if he would have gone on to win or not but he would have certainly been in the frame and this 3m round his beloved Kempton should be just what he need to bring out the best in him.

Fresh back from injury, Ruby Walsh will replace Sam Thomas which is a massive positive having the more experience jockey in the saddle.

Kauto Star is a worthy favourite and there are slight question marks over his jumping, the stables' form and simply if he is as good as he used to be.

The feeling is though it will take a big mistake from him or big improvement from one of his rivals to dethrone the current champion.

So who can realistically provide the biggest challenge to Nicholls' star performer?

At 7/2 second favourite in the market is the Alan King trained Voy Por Ustedes.

At 2m Voy Por Ustedes was one of the best around but was last season eclipsed by Master Minded.

Upped in distance to 2m4f he managed to turn the tables on the Nicholls horse giving connections confidence that he can stay the 3m of the King George.

Bar a blunder two out he went well for a long way on his reappearance but will not be able to afford any such errors round Kempton if he is to be in with a chance. The price looks short enough and there are better options at bigger prices.

Last year's second Our Vic lines up to take his chance again at 8/1 but he comes into the race with the David Pipe stable out of form. It has been a troubled season for David Pipe with an excellent win in the Hennessy for Madison Du Berlais but very little joy elsewhere.

Our Vic came into the King George last year having not run that season but pulled out a stunning performance to finish second but was never likely to beat Kauto Star.

He will be approaching the race in the same manner again and his form figures for first run of the season read 112F112 which suggests a big run will be on the cards.

He loves Kempton, will have no problem with the trip but his stable's form combined with that fact that Our Vic is simply not as good as Kauto Star at Kempton and he is unlikely to win but looks a decent each way prospect at 8/1.

Our Vic's stable mate Tamarinbleu is likely to make it a good stamina test from the front and if he can maintain the gallop has place prospects at 14/1 but again stable form is a big concern.

Nigel Twiston-Davies has come out and said it will be a big ask for Imperial Commander to win the King George. After an excellent win in the Paddy Power the intended target was the Hennessy which was washed away at Cheltenham before being moved to Newbury.

If the ground is quick then Imperial Commander would not run and given the terrible form of Twiston-Davies' stable the 9/1 on offer may seem a little short considering we just don't know how good Imperial Commander is but are sure to find out on Boxing day.

Air Force One at 7/1 is rated by many but has a lot to prove on all known form. He ran an excellent second in the Hennessy where he had the beating of Snoopy Loopy and Albertas Run (33/1 for the King George should he line up).

Charlie Mann's hope jumped very well, will love going right handed and should get the distance no problem.

It is simply a case of him having to find a lot improvement if he is in with a chance of turning over Kauto Star and Voy Por Ustedes.

Kauto Star on paper should win and win easily but prohibitive odds of 5/4 make others more appealing. All eyes will be on the great horse as some feel he has started to decline while others think this is a steering job.

The suggestion is Our Vic each way at the 8/1 on offer. Last years' second has got the potential to run Kauto Star a lot closer this time and even beat him at Aintree last season. Slight doubts about the stables' form are the main concern but it is more than likely Our Vic will give us a big run for our money.

Our Vic - ew at 8/1

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