IT'S the highlight of the Christmas schedule and Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) has all the best bets for the King George.
King George VI Chase | Monday 15:15
The King George is the highlight of Boxing Day and despite the small field this is arguably the most anticipated renewal for a long time. Crack novice Thistlecrack steps into open company for the first time over fences and takes on his stablemate Cue Card who has a glorious CV, so who comes out on top?
Before I look at the big two, it's important we don't forget about the three other high class horses lining up. Josses Hill is starting to fulfil the promise he has threatened for ages and Tea for Two is a Grade 1 winner over course and distance as a novice. Both are worthy of their places and there have been worse winners, however they have chosen a difficult year to win this.
Also lining up is dual winner Silviniaco Conte. What a horse he has been and aside from his dislike for Cheltenham he has had a fantastic career. Unfortunately age seems to have caught up with him and as the prices suggest he's not expected to trouble the judge here.
So let's move on to the Tizzard duo. First of all I want to say how refreshing it is for a stable to allow their stars to clash, especially when it could threaten a million pound bonus for Cue Card. Maybe there is hope of a Faugheen vs Annie Power match at some point.
Thistlecrack has developed into the best staying hurdler in recent memory and now he's turned his attentions to chasing. He's made the transition to the bigger obstacles effortlessly and deserves his place in this. However this is a huge step up from what he's been racing and as visually impressive as he is on every visit to the track this is a different test.
Cue Card has been there and done that and is unfortunate not to have won every big race around in the National Hunt scene. On his return this year he was a little flat but looked back to his best last time when slamming Coneygree and in a way is still underrated by the media.
He beat Vatour in this last year, would Thistlecrack be favourite if Vatour was his opponent? I think not. At the prices I'd far rather back the established chaser as Thistlecrack will have to be a superstar to win this on his fourth start over fences.
King George VI Chase – Cue Card to win (6/4 Betfred)