Officials at Kempton are looking forward to one of the most high-class renewals of the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase for years.
Two previous winners and two of the rising stars of the National Hunt game are in the field along with an Arkle winner in Footpad and Ryanair runner-up Aso.
Punters can barely split the Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname and Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation, who both made huge statements last time out.
Cyrname ended Altior’s 19-race winning streak while Lostintranslation beat Bristol De Mai on his favourite hunting ground of Haydock.
The fact that both stables field horses who have won the race before in Nicholls’ Clan Des Obeaux and Tizzard’s Thistlecrack – but neither are first string – advertises the quality on show.
Kempton’s clerk of the course Barney Clifford said: “There’s no question the ground has dried out but there’s not much point in changing it (from soft) as rain is forecast prior to racing.
“However much it has dried it will probably revert to soft. If the rain doesn’t materialise I would be delighted to have a championship race on good to soft ground.
“It is such a cracking King George, there are five of the six with a serious chance. I’ve sat on Footpad since he’s been here and he’s in great order. It’s incredible that he’s the lowest rated in the race as a winner of the Arkle.
“I love seeing former winners come back and the two this year aren’t even the first string from their yards.
“We’ve normally got a standout horse, we had Kauto Star for years, Long Run and then Silviniaco Conti but this year to have previous King George winners as second strings is phenomenal.
“We’ve got the two new kids on the block in Cyrname and Lostintranslation and if we only get a couple of millimetres of rain we’ll have a proper championship race on our hands.
“The Christmas Hurdle is a cracker, too, and I’m very happy with the fields over the two days.
“I think the weather has helped this year, the softer ground has enabled all the good horses to be out earlier – we’ve been blessed.
“The forecast is for a pretty mild night with the rain pushing in from mid-morning. A few sites tell a different story and if we have to get rain then two millimetres will be fine.”