Outsider Tornado Flyer swoops to shock King George VI victory at Kempton

·2-min read

Tornado Flyer sprung a King George VI Chase upset at Kempton as Ireland’s domination of Britain’s biggest races continued in 2021.

The Willie Mullins-trained horse was sent off a 28/1 outsider for the Boxing Day feature, in a high-class field that included former winners Frodon and Clan Des Obeaux, as well as the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Minella Indo.

However, Danny Mullins produced a confident ride as the eight-year-old scored for the first time since winning a novice chase at Navan in December 2019.

Victory in British National Hunt racing’s most prestigious race outside the spring festivals comes after the Irish ran riot at Cheltenham in March and trained the first five home in the Grand National at Aintree.

It was Willie Mullins’ first win in the race since he saddled Florida Pearl 20 years ago and the Closutton trainer would almost certainly have had the one-two had Asterion Forlonge not fallen at the last.

Instead, Clan Des Obeaux, bidding for a third win in the race after success in 2018 and 2019, finished second with trainer Paul Nicholls also having the third and fourth in Saint Calvados and Frodon.

Nicky Henderson’s second-season chaser Chantry House was backed into 3/1 favouritism before the off but never travelled well and was pulled up after a mistake at the 12th, while Minella Indo was also hugely disappointing for Rachael Blackmore, pulled up after dropping through the field having hassled Frodon for the lead in the early part of the race.

Earlier on the card, Epatante won her second Christmas Hurdle for Nicky Henderson and Nico De Boinville, while Paul Nicholls’ Bravemansgame came out on top in the eagerly-anticipated battle of two top novices as he lowered the colours of Ahoy Senor in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.

Winning rider Mullins told ITV Racing: "I didn't think he was totally out of it as he has always had the promise to deliver something like this.

"I knew he had a squeak and going away from the stands the second time he started to come alive. Down the back I was able to keep filling him up.

"When he got to the last he started idling and I wouldn't have minded Asterion getting to me as I think I had a little left - but I was happy enough to be left alone in front.

"When you are riding for Willie you've always got a chance whatever their price. I was lucky enough to ride a Grade One winner for him the other week at a big price, you've always got a chance.

"This year has been a great year for me, loads of winners at big festivals and to top it off with the King George is great. It's one of the races of the season."

Additional reporting by PA Media.

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