100m Boxing Day betting bonanza! King George VI Chase sees punters dig deep
Bookmakers are predicting that the eagerly awaited clash between Kauto Star and Long Run in the King George VI Chase at Kempton will send Britain betting crazy.
Ladbrokes say records could be smashed as between 35-40million is wagered by partisan punters on the televised race featuring four-time winner Kauto Star and the horse that took his title last season.
With a bumper programme of Barclays Premier League football also scheduled, the high street bookmakers reckon overall betting turnover on the day could come close to 100m.
Betting bonanza: Punters will be hoping to scoop a Boxing Day jackpot with plenty of money staked on jockey Sam Waley-Cohen to steer Long Run to glory
David Williams, spokesman for Ladbrokes, said: ‘When the big horses turn up, the big money turns out. Kauto Star and Long Run have really galvanised the public. They could add an extra 10-15m to betting on the race. Turnover might get close to 40m.
‘That would be right up there, second only to Grand National day. Cheltenham Gold Cup day is big but it is not a public holiday and today punters are being served up a feast of action across the sporting stage.’
King George sponsors William Hill make Nicky Henderson-trained Long Run the 5-4 favourite with Paul Nicholls’ Kauto Star 3-1.
Bookmakers’ satchels will bulge still further if one of Captain Chris, Master Minded or Somersby can spark a surprise in a vintage renewal for the prestigious race featuring eight runners.
In three previous clashes, six-year-old Long Run, who is ridden by amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, leads Kauto Star 2-1.
He also beat his 11-year-old rival in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.
But, amid calls for him to be retired, a reinvigorated Kauto Star, a two-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner and a steeplechasing all-time great, secured his first win over Long Run by eight lengths in last month’s Betfair Chase at Haydock.
Leading the way: Long Run holds a 2-1 record over Kauto Star (far right) in their three meetings to date
If he succeeds this afternoon under jockey Ruby Walsh, he will win the Christmas feature for an unprecedented fifth time, going one better than the great Desert Orchid whose statue stands alongside the Kempton paddock. Nicholls believes Kauto Star is in better form than last season, possibly because it has taken him so long to recover from a heavy fall in the 2010 Gold Cup.
Form: Paul Nicholls believes Kauto Star is in top condition
He said: ‘It just might be he took 12 months to get over that fall. It was horrific. I am clutching at straws but he seems in a great place at the moment.’
Henderson is also confident it will be a sharper Long Run who lines up compared to the Haydock model.
He said: ‘We could go on trying to dissect the Betfair Chase as long as we like but he’s a horse who does get a bit rusty. He was too fresh early on that day and got into a head to head with Kauto. He made a mistake then went back for more and that rocked the boat. In fairness, he did well to get anywhere near him.’
A crowd close to the 22,000 capacity is expected at Kempton.
With a first prize of 102,000 up for grabs, the King George also has significance in the jump trainers’ championship in which reigning champion Nicholls leads Henderson by 370,000.