Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 12:37 24/11/2014
Boxing Day's King George VI Chase picture became a lot clearer at the weekend with the victory of last year's winner Silviniaco Conti in Haydock's Betfair Chase elevating Paul Nicholls' gelding to outright favouritism at a best price 4-1 with Boylesports, Betfair Sportsbook and Winner to become the first back-to-back winner of the Christmas showpiece since his illustrious former stablemate Kauto Star who dominated the race between 2006 and 2011, with only Long Run in 2010 ( run Jan 2011 ) preventing an unbroken sequence of six straight victories.
A three and a half length winner over Cue Card 12 months ago with Dynaste a tailed off fifth, it is difficult seeing either of those two potential rivals turning the tables on Silviniaco Conti in a months time after the son of Dom Alco handed out a comprehensive defeat upon both at the weekend but one horse who could cause the eight-year-old more problems and looks a cracking each-way bet at the 12-1 available with Ladbrokes is stable companion Al Ferof who finished third in last season's William Hill-sponsored contest.
The grey gelding won one of the best Supreme Novice Hurdles ever run at the Cheltenham Festival when beating Spirit Son, Sprinter Sacre and Cue Card in 2011 and switching to fences ran out a most impressive winner of the 2012 Paddy Power Gold Cup under top weight. The nine-year-old was not seen out for another year due to a setback and looked a shadow of his former self last season until it was discovered that the horse was suffering from a serious bout of ulcers.
With that problem now under control the mount of Ruby Walsh could not have been more impressive when storming home from a decent field in Ascot's Amlin 1965 Chase last Saturday and it may be that this season could see Al Ferof at his very best, in which case the King George, especially if it is run on good ground, looks the perfect next step for a horse who is way too big at a double figure price.