By Simon Jackson.
Al Ferof bids to continue his consistent record in the William Hill King George VI Chase where nine horses remain in contention for the feature race of the season at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
For the past two years Al Ferof has finished third in the King George to his Paul Nicholls-trained stablemate Silviniaco Conti, before the 10-year-old Al Ferof was moved to the yard of former Nicholls’ assistant Dan Skelton this term.
He made a dream start for his new handler when winning the Grade 2 Betfred Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon by 40 lengths earlier this month.
The dual Grade 1 winner, whose victories include the 2011 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, has come out of the race well and Skelton is hopeful of a good run in Saturday’s Grade 1 contest that is televised live on Channel 4 (3.10pm).
“He had his first run for us in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon this month and you saw that day that he has lost none of his sparkle. He jumped like a stag and won as he liked,” Skelton said.
“I know he’s got a great record fresh so it might be that he can’t improve on Huntingdon, but he came out of the race in superb form and I have him in the best shape possible.
“I couldn’t be any happier with him and we’ll just keep our fingers crossed,” the trainer told Racing & Football Outlook.
The grey is priced at 16-1 with sponsors William Hill in a high-class field that includes multiple Grade 1 winner Don Cossack, JLT Novices’ Chase winner Vautour, dual Betfair Chase winner Cue Card, Hennessy winner Smad Place and dual King George winner Silviniaco Conti.
Brian Clifford, Regional Head of Racing and Clerk of the Course at Kempton added: “We are delighted with the strength and depth of the entries across both days of the William Hill Winter Festival. The three Grade 1 races on Boxing Day look exceptional and the forecast is set fair to be two wonderful days racing.”
William Hill King George VI Chase: 9-4 Don Cossack, 11-4 Vautour, 10-3 Cue Card, 8-1 Silviniaco Conti, Smad Place, 16-1 Al Ferof, 25-1 Valseur Lido, 33-1 Irish Cavalier, 66-1 Ballynagour (EW ¼ Odds Places 1,2,3)
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.