The King George VI Chase is a Grade 1 steeplechase run over 3 miles at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. The race was inaugurated in February, 1937, and was named in honour of King George VI, who ascended to the throne, unexpectedly, in December, 1936, following the voluntary abdication of his older brother, King Edward VII. Horse racing at Kempton Park lapsed for the duration of World War II, when the site served as a reception camp for prisoners-of-war but, when racing returned in 1947, the King George VI Chase was rescheduled for Boxing Day.
Worth £250,000 in guaranteed prize money, the King George VI Chase is invariably the highlight of a bumper Boxing Day programme and, in terms of prestige, is second only to the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Indeed, the race forms the second leg of the so-called ‘Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown’, which offers a £1,000,000 bonus to any horse that wins the Betfair Chase, King George VI Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season.
The most successful horse in the history of the King George VI Chase was Kauto Star, trained by Paul Nicholls, who won five times from six attempts between 2006 and 2011. That said, a total of fifteen horses have won the race more than once, with Wayward Lad (1982, 1983 and 1985) and Desert Orchid (1986, 1988, 1989 and 1990) among other notable multiple winners. Arkle, arguably the greatest steeplechaser in history, won the King George VI Chase just once, by a distance, in 1965, but would have won again in 1966, but for sufffering a career-ending injury during the race.
Paul Nicholls has won the King George VI Chase a remarkable 12 times, including five times in the last 10 years, so it is no real surprise that Bravemansgame, who won the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, over the same course and distance, last Boxing Day, is prominent in the ante-post betting for the 2022 renewal. Favourite, though, at the time of writing, is the dual Ryanair Chase winner, Allaho, trained by Willie Mullins.