King George Chase - History
Although not a long history, the King George Chase has a very intersting one. It was first run in 1937 at the Kempton Park racecourse which has been its host ever since. The race was named in honour of the new King, who himself was an enthusiastic National Hunt follower. Despite this, the race did not earn immediate prestige, the first two runnings only attracted fields of four runners on both occassions. The prestige only came after the Second World War. In fact it was not run at all during the war years as Kempton Park was used as a Prisoner of War camp.
The very first post war winner was a horse called Southern Hero, who is still the oldest ever winner of the race.
Racing returned to Kempton after the war and the running of the King George was resumed on Boxing Day 1947, it has been run on Boxing Day eversince. The 1947 race was won by Cottage Rake, who had won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, it was his victory in the race that raised the standard and has only attracted top class fields since. From 1949 the race has been televised and as a result its reputation simply soared.
These days it is second most prestigious National Hunt Chase in the racing calendar, with only the Cheltenham Gold Cup ranked higher, and it boasts a glittering Roll of Honour of past winners. Among them Arkle, Desert Orchid, Wayward Lad and Best Mate. Look at the King George Chase Legends page for further background. The King George also competes very closely with the Gold Cup in the betting arena, where Bookmakers each year report huge interest in the King George Chase Betting markets.