Tuesday 31st October
Entries are revealed today for racing’s Christmas highlight, the £250,000 Ladbrokes King George VI Chase. The famous contest takes place over three miles at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, Tuesday 26th December.
Shishkin, winner of the two-mile Sporting Life Arkle Novices’ Chase at The Cheltenham Festival in 2021, made the successful step up three miles at the end of last season when successful in the Grade One Aintree Bowl at the Randox Grand National Festival and his trainer Nicky Henderson has revealed that the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase is very much on the agenda for the nine-year-old in 2023.
Henderson, who previously won the Boxing Day highlight with Long Run (2010, 2012) and Might Bite (2017), said: “The whole objective for Shishkin is one day after Christmas and that is the King George. After that race we will decide where we go from there. He has had a racecourse gallop and the plan is to go to the Betfair Chase first then onto the King George. He was super in the racecourse gallop and I was thrilled with him. Nico (de Boinville) rode him and he was great.
“I was definitely keen to do something like that with him. We took six of them to Windsor including Jonbon and Dusart and they all had a nice day out there. The ground was lovely down there.
“He is most definitely a stayer. We started last season at two miles, then we went up to two miles five furlongs at Ascot and he looked good. You would have to say we were a little bit disappointed at Cheltenham in the Ryanair Chase, but then we upped him to three miles one furlong at Aintree and that was a good solid staying jumping performance.
“His win at Aintree showed that he stays three miles, but now we have got to confirm that. The ground at Haydock does frighten you a little bit, but we have got to go there as he is not entered in the Charlie Hall and you have either that or the Betfair Chase before the King George.
“The King George is the obvious target if he is going for anything. You start with that and then go from there.”
No trainer has won the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase more than Paul Nicholls, with Bravemansgame handing the 14-times champion Jump trainer a record-extending 13th victory in 2022.
The eight year old has Kempton Park as an objective once again as Nicholls explained: “The two targets for him this season though are the King George and Cheltenham Gold Cup. We might run him somewhere between the King George and the Gold Cup, but I’ve not made that plan yet. Those are my target races.
“He was awesome in the Gold Cup (when second) and he ran well at Punchestown. He was always on the front end in the Gold Cup, and he kept galloping.
“I’d say you are at your best when you are eight, nine or ten. He has peaked now so he has still got another good go at it.”
There are 19 entries in total, with five from Ireland including Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Galopin des Champs (Willie Mullins). There is also an entry from France in the shape of Gran Diose (Louisa Carberry), a dual Grade Two winner.
Ladbrokes bet: Bravemansgame 7/4, Shishkin 4/1, Galopin Des Champs 6/1, Allaho 8/1, L'Homme Presse/Gerri Colombe 10/1, The Real Whacker 16/1, Pic D'Orhy/Protektorat 20/1, 25 bar
Nicola McGeady, Head of PR at Ladbrokes, said: "A mouthwatering clash looks in store for Boxing Day as Galopin Des Champs looks set to renew rivalry with Bravemansgame. The latter is favourite to defend his crown but looking at the list of stars, it won't be an easy feat."
Ladbrokes King George VI Chase (Grade 1) 3m
2.30pm, Kempton Park, Tuesday 26th December
Allaho (FR) 9 Cheveley Park Stud Willie Mullins, Ireland
Bravemansgame (FR) 8 Bryan Drew Paul Nicholls
Conflated (IRE) 9 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott, Ireland
Edwardstone 9 Robert Abrey & Ian Thurtle Alan King
Frodon (FR) 11 Mr P. J. Vogt Paul Nicholls
Fugitif (FR) 8 Mr Carl Hinchy & Dr Emad Hussain Richard Hobson
Galopin des Champs (FR) 7 Mrs Audrey Turley Willie Mullins, Ireland
Gerri Colombe (FR) 7 Robcour Gordon Elliott, Ireland
Gran Diose (FR) 7 F&O Hinderze/Luc Monnet Mrs Louisa Carberry, France
Hewick (IRE) 8 Mr T. J. McDonald John Joseph Hanlon, Ireland
L'homme Presse (FR) 8 DFA Racing (Pink & Edwards) Venetia Williams
Midnight River 8 Mr Frank McAleavy Dan Skelton
My Drogo 8 Mr & Mrs R. Kelvin-Hughes Dan Skelton
Pic D'orhy (FR) 8 Mrs Johnny de la Hey Paul Nicholls
Protektorat (FR) 8 Sir A Ferguson G Mason J Hales & L Hales Dan Skelton
Royale Pagaille (FR) 9 Mrs S. Ricci Venetia Williams
Shan Blue (IRE) 9 Mr Colm Donlon Dan Skelton
Shishkin (IRE) 9 Mrs J Donnelly Nicky Henderson
The Real Whacker (IRE) 7 Neville, Mann, Duffus, Dennis-Price Patrick Neville