Racing: Doumen omens

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A PATTERN more vivid than in the unwanted Christmas sweater can be seen in the record of past winners of the King George VI Chase.

Just three stables have sent out the winners of 12 of the last 13 runnings, a statistic which should hearten The Fellow's trainer, Francois Doumen, who was responsible for two of those successes. Jenny Pitman, who sends out The Illywhacker, is the only other winning trainer who is represented this year.

Equally striking is the trend for horses to run up a sequence in the race, which was first staged in 1937.

Desert Orchid, with four wins, heads that league, but Wayward Lad with three, Pendil, Silver Buck and Captain Christy, and before them Halloween and Mandarin, with two victories apiece demonstrate that this is a course where specialists are hard to overthrow.

In contrast, no horse has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup more than once since L'Escargot in 1970 and 1971 and before him a horse called Arkle.