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Monday, 16 December, 2002, 15:39 GMT
Kempton's showpiece event
Barton Bank
Adrian Maguire is unseated by Barton Bank in 1994

It is the ambition of all owners, trainers and jockeys to win one of chasing's "big three" races - the Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup or the King George VI.

Yet a cursory glance at the Kempton roll of honour shows that those lucky enough to scoop the King George once have often had the outrageous cheek to win it again.

No fewer than nine horses have won the King George VI twice - these include four-time winner Desert Orchid and triple champion Wayward Lad.

But just as the Kempton record books show double triumphs, so too is glory often paired with subsequent disaster a year later.

King George facts
Shortest priced winner: Arkle 1/7, 1965
Longest priced winner: Nupsala 25/1, 1987
Biggest field: 16, 1978
Smallest field: 2, 1964 (Hard ground)

The legendary Arkle was the King George VI champion in 1965 but during the following year's race he broke a pedal bone.

Although he still managed to come second, he never raced again.

Nupsala was a surprise winner in 1987 but the following year his connections dialled the wrong fax number when confirming his entry for the race.

Having missed the declaration deadline before the mistake was realised, the horse was unable to defend his crown.

Barton Bank took the 1993 race but 12 months later, he unseated his rider when well clear at the last fence.

French winners

Another anomaly of Kempton's premier race is the success of French raiders.

The King George has fallen into French hands on five occasions in the last 14 years.

It is a race which has always traditionally been contested by fairly small, but select fields.

The 1975 contest was a one-horse race - this time in the sense that Captain Christy led from start to finish and ended up an emphatic 30-length winner.

The oldest winner of the King George was the first ever champion, the 12-year-old Southern Hero in 1937.

Five-year-old Manicou, who won in 1950, was the youngest.

One Man won at Kempton and Sandown
One Man won at Kempton and Sandown

The average age of the winner is eight years old - the age of popular grey One Man when he won the 1995 race - and bizarrely the age he was when he retained his title in 1996.

This was because the 1995 meeting was abandoned because of bad weather and held a few weeks later in January 1996.

Regardless of which month in a year they are born, all horses' ages are calculated as if they were born on 1 January, allowing One Man to achieve this unique distinction.

Other reasons for the abandoning of the race include World War II and a foot-and-mouth epidemic in the 1960s.

The rescheduled 1995 race was run at Sandown, the only time the race has been re-arranged and the only time the King George has not been run at Kempton.

However, the venue for future renewals is in doubt as Kempton are currently considering a plan to abandon jumping meetings in favour of all-weather fixtures.

Missing names

Ex-champion jockey Richard Dunwoody is the most successful King George rider with four wins but several top jockeys are notable absentees.

Tony McCoy has yet to claim a win in the race while former champions Peter Scudamore, Jonjo O'Neill and Terry Biddlecombe are among those who drew a blank.

Big-name trainers such as Martin Pipe and Nicky Henderson are also still seeking success in Kempton's big race.

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