King George VI Chase betting: Gerri Colombe backed
Gordon Elliott has stressed “everything is open” for Gerri Colombe as bookmakers took evasive action anticipating a Boxing Day appearance in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase betting.
Following his winning return at Down Royal, Elliott had mentioned Leopardstown’s festive feature, the Savills Chase, or the Cotswold Chase on Cheltenham’s Festival Trials Day card would be the destination for the next step on the seven-year-old’s path to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
But with both defending champion Bravemansgame and Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin fluffing their lines at Haydock and Ascot respectively over the weekend, the Cullentra House handler sent the King George market spinning when briefly suggesting a trip to Kempton was possible in an interview following the victory of Imagine at Punchestown on Sunday.
Gerri Colombe has since attracted significant support in the King George market, pushing Bravemansgame for favouritism with Coral.
He was slashed from 8/1 to 4/1 before being trimmed again to 3/1, with Coral’s David Stevens stating: “At this rate, he could soon be clear favourite for the race.
“With Bravemansgame and Shishkin fluffing their lines over the weekend, the King George market opened up quite a lot, and that may have increased the chances of Gerri Colombe making the trip to Kempton.”
Speaking to the PA news agency on Monday, Elliott confirmed no decision has been made yet, with conditions nearer the time set to determine Gerri Colombe’s next move.
“Everything is still kind of up in the air and everything is open,” said Elliott.
“We’ve got the King George, Leopardstown and the race at Cheltenham. There’s no decision made, we will just wait to see what the ground is and make a decision nearer the time.
“We won’t know for two weeks what we are doing.”
When asked if the drama-filled events over the weekend make saddling a first King George runner since Don Cossack in 2015 more tempting, Elliott added: “To be honest, I just worry about my own horse, I don’t worry about anyone else.”
Don Cossack was a late faller when sent off favourite for Kempton’s Christmas showpiece that year before going on to taste Gold Cup glory the following March.
Royale Pagaille (10/1) upset Bravemansgame to land the Betfair Chase at Haydock while Shishkin stunned onlookers at Ascot when refusing to start in the Nirvana Spa 1965 Chase, which went the way of Pic D’Orhy, 14/1 for the King George VI Chase.
Paul Nicholls made no excuses for Bravemansgame and is still planning to head to Kempton.
He said: “He was not good enough on the day, it’s as simple as that.
“He jumped well, travelled well and Daryl (Jacob) said he thought he was going to win going to four out but he didn’t quite pick up. No excuses.
“It’s a different test at Kempton (King George), it probably suits him better there. Daryl gave him a super ride but the other one has just outstayed him from three out really.
“Kempton is his track, it won’t do him any harm to have a few runs.
“I’m not really worried about him having a hard race, he’s got a month really.
“To be honest with you, you can wrap them up too much in cotton wool, I’ll probably freshen him up more now rather than work him hard.
“I’ve won this race loads of times and then gone to the King George with Kauto (Star) and (Silviniaco) Conti, we’ll get him back there.
“He might want a few races to harden him up a bit. The winner is a real course specialist and we’ve no excuses, Daryl said he just got away from him three out, outstayed him.
“He’s run well and he’ll run well at Kempton.”
Shishkin, Nicky Henderson’s top-class chaser, was returning to action in the Grade Two contest, which only attracted four runners.
Nico de Boinville was partnering the gelding, who was the short-priced favourite, but at the tapes he did not budge and the race went ahead without him.
High drama at Ascot!
Pic D'Orhy lands the G2 1965 Chase as Shishkin refuses to race! pic.twitter.com/UgdfzKXVr5
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) November 25, 2023
Pic D’Orhy and Straw Fan Jack briefly locked horns but Harry Coben’s mount pulled away when asked for a 16-length success at 5/2.
“What can I say?” said a dejected Henderson. “I don’t know why he did that today, it’s one of those starts where you are going away from home (stables) and the odd horse will do it.
“My biggest concern would be the King George start would be exactly the same. How could I guarantee he wouldn’t do the same thing again?
“But I can guarantee if I took him down to the two-mile start here he would fly up. He would be in the lead.
3/1 Gerri Colombe
10/1 L’Homme Presse, Galopin Des Champs, Royale Pagaille
14/1 Pic D’Orhy
16/1 The Real Whacker
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All odds and markets correct as of date of publication