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Native River confirmed for the King George VI Chase at Kempton

Posted on December 29, 2018 by Jack Rose

horse racing-1Ahead of the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Wednesday, Native River has been confirmed as a late entry to make up the list of 11 runners.

Last year’s Gold Cup winner joins a tough-looking field, who’ll all be looking to taste success come Boxing Day.

The likes of old rival Might Bite, Waiting Patiently, Politologue and Thistlecrack will all be chomping at the bit to get one over on Native River, thus making it one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the year.

Trainer Colin Tizzard has enjoyed a number of major victories with Native River, including wins at the Worcester Novices Chase, Mildmay Novices Chase, Welsh Grand National, Hennessy Gold Cup, Denman Chase and the Gold Cup.

The eight-year-old has had a strong year and if he could fashion another victory at Kempton – as hard as that’ll be – it’ll put Native River in serious contention for a second successive Gold Cup.

King George chances

With a price of 10/1, Native River is a relative long shot but he has the pedigree to mix it with the best in the business. Even with the aforementioned Might Bite et al, all with much more favourable prices, Native River is more than capable of a minor upset.

“Our tactics will suit Kempton, where you have to be near the pace,” owner Garth Broom told the Racing Post.

“Whether one or two might be that bit quicker on that track, where we haven’t got the nice uphill finish [as at Cheltenham] to help us, we’ll see. I think he’ll run his usual solid race and be thereabouts.”

It’ll be a very intriguing race come Boxing Day and after a strong run at the Betfair Chase in November, it’ll be naïve to rule out Native River altogether.


Gold Cup aspirations

Obviously, Native River will be targeting a second-successive Gold Cup success in 2019 but what he does between now and March will be paramount to his chances. As earlier stated, it won’t be an easy feat to win the King George VI but to be regarded as one of the best, you have to mix it with the big names and come out on top.

You have to go back to the early noughties to find a back-to-back winner of the Gold Cup, when Best Mate landed a treble of consecutive victories (2003, 2004, 2005). Native River does sit favourably with the Cheltenham Festival betting, currently second-favourite behind Presenting Percy at 7.8 (7/1).

Many of Native River’s rivals will be jostling with him for the most prestigious prize in British horse racing, but if the Tizzard-trained thoroughbred can demonstrate his credentials on Boxing Day and any future meetings, he’ll be primed for a second Gold Cup.

In 2018, Native River ran a superb race and after finding a steady rhythm when jumping, allowed him to steal the march on Might Bite after an epic duel between the pair. Whatever happens at Kempton, you can be sure that Native River and Might Bite will be there or thereabouts come Gold Cup day.

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