ITV Races - Tony Calvin

Tony Calvin Ante-Post Tips: Bank on 50/1 Miller to run well in King George on Boxing Day

Betfair tipster Tony Calvin
Tony is going back in for another stab at Boxing Day's King George VI Chase

Tony Calvin has taken another look at Boxing Day's feature race, the King George VI Chase at Kempton, and our man has a fresh tip to consider at huge odds...

  • Nine declared for King George at 5-day stage

  • Expect L'Homme Presse to be fav on the day

  • Royale Pagaille very nearly a bet

  • Millers Bank chanced at 50/1 in winnable race

The Boxing Day five-day declarations have just landed and nine are left in the King George, from 13 previously, with a grand total of zero horses supplemented.

We have lost Noble Yeats, Pic D'Orhy, Protektorat and the ineligible Red Happy.

What was a pretty static market has perked up a bit in recent days as the rain has arrived, and the forecast has become a fair bit wetter, which has brought more horses into the equation.

With that in mind, I was quite surprised that they didn't at least leave the Grand National and Many Clouds winner Noble Yeats in the race at the five-day stage but, as with Protektorat, I guess an early decision should be welcomed by punters.

Expect L'Homme to Presse for clear King George favouritism

Quite why there was any doubt about L'Homme Presse turning up, health-permitting obviously, in the first place is anyone's guess.

We all know these days that big National Hunt race meetings are going to take place on at least good to soft ground, whatever nature intends or tries to dictate, and Venetia Williams' chaser is clearly fully at home on that surface.

And Timeform actually called it good when he posted a career-best effort when winning the Rehearsal Chase on his return.

Sure, he may ideally want it nearer soft than good around Kempton but it is clearly no necessity for him and I expect him to assume clear favouritism over Bravemansgame once the market becomes money-back for non-runners after the overnight stage kicks in after 10am on December 23.

If not before.

The chances of him not running because of the ground seem minimal now (indeed close to zero) but I can see why punters would rather wait to back him, now he has shortened into 3.39/4 on the exchange and 15/8 with the Sportsbook.

Happy with Hitman but I'm not going in again at the moment

I tipped up Hitman at 6/1+ here last Monday and you can read my lengthy appraisal of all the contenders here and nothing has changed as regards that argument, even if his price has been all around the houses since.

He actually hit a low of 4.57/2 on the exchange at one point, but he is back out to last week's price as the softening ground has brought more contenders into the mix.

Hitman 1280 x 763.png

Oh, and one official word about the going. The BHA site has it currently at good to soft already after 10mm overnight on Sunday, with rain forecast daily for the next week (they got a bit more throughout Monday), so we are surely looking at soft, if possibly even a touch deeper.

While I am sure that will be fine for the Paul Nicholls' big two (though his other contender, Frodon, won this race in 2020, less we forget) - I won't restate the case for Hitman here, as I am not going in again myself at the moment - it is possibly more in the favour of some of their rivals now.

Pagaille an obvious shortener if turning up in testing conditons

Admittedly, Envoi Allen is not one of those and, while I don't fancy him at all, if you do then I would wait.

They could decide to stay at home with him - he has the option of the Savills Chase at Leopardstown on December 28 - if the ground got a lot worse than is currently forecast (I heard Kempton clerk Barney Clifford saying he is working on the basis of good to soft, soft in places, at the moment).

Royale Pagaille - the amount of times I write Royal before correcting myself is something else - is an obvious beneficiary of the wet forecast, as testing conditions really play to his strengths.

He has form on decent ground but this is a horse who is a proper weapon when it gets down and dirty, as his two victories in Haydock''s Peter Marsh pay testament to, the latter of which came off a mark of 163 (L'Homme Presse's Newcastle handicap win came off 164) from a horse who won by 15 lengths off a (lofty) perch of 147 at Aintree just two starts later.

And he is a course and distance winner too, and one who has gone very well on his seasonal reappearances in the last two campaigns.

However, connections have been toying with the Welsh National as an alternative Christmas engagement for him - the five-day entries for that are on Wednesday, but he wasn't declared for the Rowland Meyrick on Boxing Day on Tuesday, which could be a possible sign of intent to run here - and this is the trouble ante-post punters have to contend with now if you fancy getting him onside.

If and when it is announced that he will join stablemate L'Homme Presse at Kempton on Boxing Day then he is an obvious shortener from 20/1, especially if that coincides with the heavens re-opening after a sunny day at Kempton on Tuesday.

I have heard a few people saying this is a moderate renewal of the race - and it clearly houses no superstar, as yet - so I suppose it is a good time to list the official ratings of the horses left in the race.

Here goes:

170 L'Homme Presse, 165 Envoi Allen, 164 Bravemansgame, 163 Royale Pagaille, 162 Eldorado Allen, Frodon, 161 Ahoy Senor, 160 Hitman, 155 Millers Bank.

Now, that strikes me as the kind of competitive race I want to see - even after we have lost Protektorat and Noble Yeats, rated 170 and 167 respectively - rather than a 180+ monster like Kauto Star strolling home at heavy odds-on, and it clearly has welcomed depth, if no stand-out performer.

Outsider Millers Bank chanced in a winnable King George

Aside from Royale Pagaille, the one that I am currently drawn to at a massive price is Millers Bank, currently 80.079/1 on the exchange, as he actually has a similar profile to Hitman and he is about 10 times the price.

He is 50s with the Sportsbook for each-way 1,2,3 punters. Back him.

Back Millers Bank each-way, 1,2,3, in the King George Chase on Boxing Day @


Sure, he is an 8yo and rated just 155, and the worsening ground may be a concern, but he is a Grade 1-placed novice hurdler with only nine chase runs under his belt and he has shaped as if another try at this 3m trip is well worth it. Even upped in grade.

He blew out over 3m60yd at Punchestown in April but that was only 19 days after his 10-length win in a Grade 1 at Aintree, and he has more than hinted that stepping back up in trip could pay dividends after staying efforts over 2m4f at Huntingdon and Carlisle this season.

I can't really tip him at his exchange price now as I want to be putting him up in a more robust, liquid market, which I will get after the overnight decs - and I also don't know whether Alex Hales will confirm him for the race on Friday if it was verging towards heavy (he has won on that surface but presumably the trainer would want better ground at this trip) - but I am going to take my chances at 50/1 each-way with the Sportsbook, three places.

He has form figures of 122 at Kempton too, and I am going to trust Hales to do the right thing and chance his arm in a winnable King George.

After this horse won at Aintree in April, Hales said he "will appreciate three miles. That will open up options next season - I don't know about the King George, that's dreaming, isn't it?"

C'mon Alex, dream a little.

We regret the things we don't do, most of all.

KGVI Chase Kempton Clan des Obeaux 261218 (1280).jpg

In fact, I very nearly stuck up a third horse for the race in the shape of the aforementioned Royale Pagaille at 20/1 each-way too, before reining back on him at the death.

I appreciate some may think this is a touch mercenary given the field on the day could easily number seven or below - I should just add Ahoy Senor has an alternative engagement in the Rowland Meyrick on Boxing Day - but if the bookmakers don't want to bet to three places, then they shouldn't.

And, anyway, Millers Bank could easily be one of the no-shows that brings the field down to seven as I have no idea how that camp are leaning at the moment.

No betting appeal elsewhere on Kempton's card

We have five ITV races on the box on Boxing Day, including the rescheduled Long Walk Hurdle, and none of the four contests at Kempton are exactly overflowing with entries, and therefore there are very limited betting opportunities.

We have just six in the Long Walk at 12:45 and the same number in the Kauto Star at 13:20 - the sooner these novice chases are taken off the ITV schedule the better as they never get the betting numbers - and Constitution Hill is not going to come off the bridle in beating nine possible rivals in the Christmas Hurdle at 13:55.

I may return and do a separate piece on the Rowland Meyrick but that's me, for now.

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