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Kempton Winter Festival Boxing Day Meeting + 27th December 2019 – Featuring King George VI Chase

king-georgeThe Winter Festival has never really caught on as a name, most people know this event at Kempton as ‘the Boxing Day meeting’ featuring the famous King George VI Chase. The Winter Festival is however about more than just one race and is in fact a two-day meeting that runs on both the 26th and 27th December and features now less than five Grade 1 and 2 races.

The King George is the second most prestigious race of the jump season offering over £245k in prize money. The race was named after the new monarch King George in 1937 and following WWII moved to Boxing Day where it has become as much a part of the festive season as turkey and trimmings. The big race is only one of three grade 1 races on the 26th and there will be plenty of time to reinvest some winnings the very next day (27th) with a further two grade races to look forward to.

Below you will find the best deals both ante-post and during the festival. Further down there is information about the racecard and feature races.

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Kempton Winter Festival and Race Card

kempton winter festival raceThe Winter Festival hosts the King Geroge VI Chase, the second most prestigious national hunt race after the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

There is much more to the event than just this race though, the event is packed with top grade racing over the two days with racegoers and punters in a typically jovial festive mood.

The event has a captive audience due to the holiday season and for those lucky enough to have both days off there is a lot of top level live racing to watch and bet on.

Boxing Day Meeting – Tuesday 26th December 2019

Time Race Grade Distance
12:50 Novices’ Hurdle Class 2 2m
1:20 Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase Class 3 – Handicap 2m 4f 110y
1:55 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase Class 1 – Grade 1 3m
2:30 Christmas Hurdle Class 1 – Grade 1 2m
3:05 King George VI Chase Class 1 – Grade 1 3m
3:40 Handicap Hurdle Class 3 – Handicap 2m 5f

KEY: m – Miles, f – furlong(s), y – yards

Racing gets underway with two smaller races to ease us into the action, good news if you’re running late with a hangover from the previous day.

The first race is a novice hurdle for 4-year old’s and up over a 2-mile course followed by a longer 2 and a half mile novices limited handicap chase, expect a field of around 10 for both races.

The first of three back to back grade one races is up next, the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase. This is a distance run over 3 miles and 18 fences for 4yo+ nags and was originally called the Feltham Novices’ Chase before it was renamed permanently after the 5 time King George winner Kauto Star in 2013. In 2015 the race was won by Lizzie Kelly’s on Tea For Two, she became the first woman to win a grade 1 race in the UK. The purse for this race is in the range of £100k.

Next up it’s another grade 1 race to whet the appetite before the big one. The Christmas Hurdle is a 2 miler with a £126,000 prize fund for 4-year old’s and over. The 8 fence run is also the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown of Hurdling.

The King George VI Chase goes off at ten past 3 in the afternoon, perfect timing for after lunch. The 3-mile race with 18 jumps carries a prize purse of over £245,000 this year with around £142k for the winner. The race has been won by some of the world’s most famous names, including Kauto Star (5 times) and Desert Orchid (4 times), it is a must win for any future legend.

The race with a field of about 10 horses is open to 4yo’s and over. French horse Clan Des Obeaux, trained by Paul Nicholls and owned by Harry Cobden, won the race last time around in 2018 at odds of 12/1, beating 2017 winner Might Bite and 2016 winner Thislecrack, along with big names Native River, Politologue and Bristol De Mai. You can read more about the history of this race further down the page.

Boxing Day at Kempton is finished off with a nice 2-and-a-half-mile handicap. This 15+ field race is open to younger three year old’s and over and is a great one to pick an outsider each way with your winnings from the big races before.

Winter Festival Day 2 – Wednesday 27th December 2019

Time Race Grade Distance
12:50 Introductory Juvenile Hurdle Class 2 2m
1:20 Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase Class 1 – Grade 2 2m
1:55 Mares’ Handicap Hurdle Class 2 – Handicap 3m 110y
2:30 Desert Orchid Chase Class 1 – Grade 2 2m
3:05 Handicap Chase Class 2 – Handicap 3m
3:40 Handicap Hurdle Class 3 – Handicap 2m

KEY: m – Miles, f – furlong(s), y – yards

It actually surprises many people when they learn that the Winter Festival takes place over two days.  Unlike last year the 27th isn’t a bank holiday but for many people they are off work anyway meaning most of us can sit back and enjoy the racing.

Day two gets going with a 2-mile Juvenile Hurdle for 3-year-old+ horses. The first grade race of the day is up second, the grade 2 Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase. This 12 fence race over 2 miles was originally longer at 2 ½ miles before being shorted in 2000. This is another race named after a famous King George winner, Wayward lad, who won the big race three times in the 1980’s.  This is followed in third by a smaller field Mares’ Handicap Hurdle over a just over three miles

The fourth race and second grade 2 run, the Desert Orchid Chase, is also the biggest race of day two. This race is also named after a King George VI Chase legend, Desert Orchid, who won it on four occasions from 1986-1990. It was first run in 2006 and named after the 4-time winner who died a few weeks prior. This 2 miler also goes over twelve fences and commands a prize fund over £97,000.

The second day of the winter festival ends with two back to back handicaps, great for picking a long odds runner to place.

About the Winter Festival

horses in the snow

The Winter Festival is a modern name for what was always called the Boxing Day meeting at Kempton. There is some truth in the name though, the event does have a festive atmosphere, especially on the second day. In addition to the show piece racing there is a variety of free entertainment for children with festive food stalls and shops.

For 2018 the festival sticks with its new sponsor 32Red who took over from Willam Hill in 2016.  Last year they brought some extra vibrancy and colour to the event.

If you are planning on attending gates open at 10:30am and the address is: Staines Road East, Sunbury, TW16 5AQ. Parking is free and note that train services do not run on Boxing Day, there is a bus service from Kew Station in London for those coming down from London.

King George VI Chase

Winter Festival AboutThis famous race is named after King George VI who unexpectedly took the British throne following the abdication of his older brother King Edward. The race was named after the new monarch and first run in 1937, there were however only two races before the outbreak of WWII at which time the race was cancelled and Kempton used as a prisoner of war camp. The first ever race was won by Southern Hero who still holds the crown of the oldest winner of the King Geroge.

The race returned in 1947 on a new date, Boxing Day, where it has remained since. Kempton being only 16 miles from London quickly became the place to go for a day out at the races following Christmas for many in the capital.

The three mile right handed race is run over eighteen fences and all horses over four years. There are no less than fourteen horses who have won the event more than once, these include record holder Kauto Star, 5-time winner as well as Desert Orchid (4), Wayward Lad (3), and, more recently, Silviniaco Conti (2).  Might Bite will be hoping to join that list in 2018.

The race has been cancelled several times due to snow and frost and was moved twice to Sandown, in 1995 for frost and in 2005 for redevelopment work at Kempton.

Kempton Racecourse

kempton racecourse

Kempton is a typical racecourse in the south east of England. Set in the rolling grassland of Sunbury-on-Thames in Surrey the course is flat with a lake in the center. The railway station entrance is adjacent to course, very useful for racegoers traveling down from London.

The course was founded by S.H. Hyde, a businessman in the 19th Century. He noticed the Kempton manor and park was for sale while passing in a carriage in 1872 so he leased the grounds and in 1878 opened the racecourse. The only remnants of the manor are the original gate posts although there was a manor documented on the site in the Doomsday book.

Kempton has seen almost non-stop racing since it was opened and has remained a particular favorite of the traditional working and middle classes due to its close proximity of the city. In 2006 a synthetic oval all weather course was laid to allow winter flat racing in all conditions.

The National Hunt course is 1m and 5 furlongs in length in a triangular shape. Two laps of this make up the 3 miles of the King George.

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