The annual Boxing Day races are some of the most heavily anticipated events on the horse racing calendar. It’s the chance to see off the year in style for the plethora of jockeys and trainers that have enjoyed a great 12 months. There were plenty of upsets and shocks across 2021 and with the return of spectators to Kempton Park, boasting some of the best facilities in the country, the stage was set for the King George VI Chase, and few would have predicted how things turned out.
As mentioned before, 2021 was a year for the underdog, with lots of shock victories coming seemingly out of nowhere and even those trying to predict the horse racing results today found it hard to call — and the same was the case for the King George, where unlike last year’s winner, Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon,who picked up the top prize in style to justify their status as one of the favourites, it was 28/1 outsider Tornado Flyerwho was victorious.
The nine-year-old, who admittedly performed valiantly in their last race at Punchestown, is trained by Willie Mullins and his son Danny was the jockey. Together, they saw off stiff competition in Clan DesObeaux andSaint Calvados over three miles to enjoy a coveted, yet unexpected victory.
You wouldn’t be able to tell this was only the second time in his career thatTornado Flyer had ran three miles.The fast results from Paddy Power had all predicted another win for Nicholls, this time with Clan DesObeaux, but he would have to settle for a podium place after a strong start eventually faded away. Mullins Jr. put in a great display as jockey and was certainly proud of his efforts.
“Winning a King George is something you dream about. You look at the likes of Kauto Star and the other horses that have won it. For Tornado Flyer to go and put in a performance like that is magic.
“I got into a good position early and he travelled into the race very well” He said: “I just wanted to keep saving a bit as it’s a long way down the straight here and thankfully I had a willing partner, which is what it’s all about.”
Victory had looked to come as a shock for Mullins Sr. too from his post race comments. One of the best trainers in the sport’s modern history, with his most notable successes coming in the Grand National, where he led Hedgehunter to victory in 2005. Mullins still appreciated his son’s strong performance and it sets up a really exciting new year for the duo.
“I was totally surprised. John Turner, who has a share in the horse, was on to me to bring him over as he said he’d like a runner on Boxing Day in Kempton and I said ‘why not?” He said.
“John couldn’t even go into the racecourse and had to watch from the last furlong in the car park because he had his elderly parents and was afraid to bring them into the crowd with covid. It’s a fantastic day for him. I thought we’d be lucky if he could run into the places and that was the instructions I gave Danny – to ride from the back and get all the prize-money you can.”