Phew… what a scintillating, dramatic and absorbing day’s racing we were treated to on Boxing Day – hopefully it warmed the cockles for many who haven’t been able to celebrate this festive time of year in the usual way.
Kylie & Jason, Torvill & Dean, Morecambe & Wise, Frodon and Bryony – the list of famous partnerships now has a confirmed addition, as Paul Nicholls’ star chaser and Bryony Frost were simply brilliant in the King George VI Chase.
However, I urge you strongly to watch back Frodon’s victory and the win of Shan Blue in the earlier Kauto Star Novices’ Chase side-by-side. The main thing that you should note first of all, is that Frodon and Bryony simply needed good jumps over the first couple of fences to fight off Santini and Black Op for the lead. Having the lead around Kempton is such a valuable commodity, and especially when you consider just what a brilliantly judged pace it was by Bryony Frost, who stacked them up and quickened at stages of the race that suited her mount. It was a thing of beauty.
Next up, have a look at the fact that Shan Blue was attended on the front end for a large portion of the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase by Kalooki (who ended up tailed off and pulled up), and you would sense from the fact that Shan Blue appeared to be tiring at the end (he still produced magnificient leaps), that a time comparison between his novice win and the Grade 1-winning Frodon would only tell one story…. not a bit of it.
Shan Blue was significantly ahead of Frodon at every stage of the race, and for all that Frodon finished marginally quicker, it was still not enough to bridge the gap. In the end, Shan Blue won in a time 2½ seconds quicker than Frodon did over the same course and distance.
Shan Blue is a lightly raced six-year-old, who has had only three chase starts, while Frodon is a battle hardened eight-year-old with a whopping 30 runs to his name over fences. It is fair to say that Shan Blue is open to a little more improvement, and given he already has the verdict over Frodon and others of course, (Clan Des Obeaux will be back for more I’m sure,) on today’s time comparison, then that is a hugely exciting prospect.
Dan Skelton will surely now have Boxing Day 2021 circled, crossed and highlighted on his yearly planner in permanent marker, as Shan Blue looks an absolutely perfect model for a potential King George 2021 winner. So, the final thing to consider is his price, is it tempting enough to have an investment now, on the evidence of what we have seen?
25/1 with William Hill. That’s a firm yes for me.