Long Run heads a field of 10 horses declared for Boxing Day’s traditional King George VI Chase at Kempton Park with all the action live on Channel 4.
Jump racing legend Kauto Star and jockey Ruby Walsh thrilled the vast Kempton Park crowds 12 months ago to claim an historic fifth King George victory.
With Kauto having recently been retired and so many young contenders coming through, a new King of Kempton will be crowned in the famous race on Boxing Day, which is part of the first day of the two-day William Hill Winter Festival meeting.
Seven-year-old Long Run was runner-up in the race last year to Kauto Star, who was retired in October.
With the famous horse now embarking on a career in dressage, an issue which resulted in a acrimonious split between its owner Clive Smith and trainer Paul Nicholls, Kauto will be back to lead the field out in the pre-race parade at Kempton ahead of the big race.
Champion trainer Nicholls has entered Kauto Star’s half-brother Kauto Stone in for the Boxing Day showpiece, while David Pipe saddles two contenders in Grands Crus and Junior.
Trainer Nicky Henderson has a second horse, Riverside Theatre, in the race, while Philip Hobbs’s hopes rest on Captain Chris, who finished third last year, after withdrawing Menorah and Wishfull Thinking at Sunday’s final declaration stage.
The field is completed by Champion Court, For Non Stop, Cue Card and last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up The Giant Bolster, who will be ridden by Tony McCoy.
Some well-known horses been ruled out from the race, including Hunt Ball, Sir Des Champs, Finian’s Rainbow and Sizing Europe.
Long Run’s owner Robert Waley-Cohen hopes his horse, which is the pre-race favourite with the bookmakers, can improve on last month’s defeat by Silviniaco Conti in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.
While persistent wet weather continues to wipe out race meetings across the country, including the Welsh Grand National, it appears for now that there is no threat to Kempton’s big day.
Channel 4 Racing has four races from Kempton Park on the opening day of their William Hill Winter Festival meeting, featuring the King George VI Chase.
There will also be one live race from Wetherby, though this is subject to an 8.30am inspection on the day of racing with the course waterlogged in places.
Alastair Down presents live coverage on Channel 4 and Channel 4 HD. Analysis comes from John Francome and Jim McGrath, and betting news will be provided by John McCririck and Tayna Stevenson.
Derek Thompson makes his final appearance on Channel 4 Racing providing roving reports and interviews with all the key connections in the parade ring.
Race commentary comes from Simon Holt at Kempton and Ian Bartlett at Wetherby.
A special edition of The Morning Line presented by Nick Luck will preview the day’s action at 8.40am.
13:25 – KEMPTON: William Hill Betting App Novices’ Hurdle 13:45 – WETHERBY: Betfair Rowland Meyrick H’cap Chase 14:00 – KEMPTON: Williamhill.com Feltham Novices’ Chase 14:35 – KEMPTON: Williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle 15:10 – KEMPTON: William Hill King George VI Chase The Morning Line – 8.40am-9.40am – Channel 4 Channel 4 Racing LIVE: 1.15pm-3.40pm – Channel 4 Live coverage of all six races from Kempton will be shown on Racing UK.