Talking Horses: Kempton still for sale despite new sponsor for King George

The King George VI Chase at Kempton Park, the highlight of the Christmas jumping programme, has a new sponsor after Ladbrokes agreed a five-year deal on Thursday to back the track’s two-day Winter Festival meeting. Hopes the deal could herald a more certain future for the course soon evaporated when the Jockey Club, which owns Kempton, confirmed its plans to sell the track for housing are unchanged.

The King George has been won by many of the sport’s most famous names, including Arkle, Desert Orchid, Wayward Lad and Kauto Star. This year’s race is the intended target for Nicky Henderson’s outstanding chaser Altior, who is unbeaten in 19 starts over jumps but has yet to race beyond two and a quarter miles.

Altior is the 7-2 favourite to win on Boxing Day, when victory in what is likely to be his first race over three miles would confirm his status as one of jumping’s all-time greats. He could yet prove to be one of the last champions to line up for a King George at Kempton as the result of a plan announced in January 2017 to sell the course to Redrow Homes, which plans to build up to 3,000 houses on the 230-acre site.

The likelihood that Kempton would be closed appeared to recede in March 2018 when an assessment of Spelthorne council’s green belt land found Kempton was “strongly performing” in fulfilling the purposes of the green belt. Simon Bazalgette, who was widely seen as the architect of the scheme in his role as the Jockey Club’s chief executive, also stepped down earlier this year to take up a new role with the English Football League.

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Overpriced Mixer 2.30 Maid In Manhattan
3.05 Fast And Free 3.40 Bielsa (nap) 4.15 Saluti
4.45 Charlie’s Boy 5.15 The Big House 5.45 Winklemann 

Crime Of Passion 2.40 Delagate This Lord
3.15 Discovery Island 3.50 Gin Palace (nb) 4.25 Craneur 5.00 Geetanjali 

Tour De Paris 5.05 Peachey Carnehan 5.35 Red Jasper 6.05 Take Me To The Sky 6.35 Lysander Belle
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Singe Anglais 5.25 Ten Thousand Stars
5.55 Retirement Beckons 6.25 Set In Stone
6.55 Paths Of Glory 7.25 Flood Defence 8.00 Burmese Blazer 

Myklachi 6.15 Monica Sheriff 6.45 Pianissimo
Kodi Koh 7.45 Cape Palace 8.15 Smugglers Creek
8.45 Im Dapper Too 

Unless or until it is formally killed off, the scheme to develop the land – which is valued at £600m with planning permission – will remain in the planning process.

Ladbrokes confirmed it has signed a deal to sponsor the Winter Festival “wherever it takes place”, while Katie Maier, a spokesperson for the Jockey Club, said there is “no update of any kind with regard [to] development at Kempton Park and it remains business as usual at the course”.



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