Clan Des Obeaux is ‘the one to beat without a shadow of a doubt’ in the King George VI Chase, says trainer Paul Nicholls
- Nicholls will be chasing his 12th win in the King George on Boxing Day
- Trainer says he can’t separate Clan Des Obeaux and stablemate Cyrname
- He also runs Real Steel and Cheltenham specialist Frodon in Kempton race
Paul Nicholls says it is hard to split his pair of Ladbrokes King George VI Chase contenders but believes Clan Des Obeaux’s two previous wins in the race put him in ahead of stablemate and favourite Cyrname.
Twenty-one lengths separated those horses last year when Sam Twiston-Davies-ridden Clan Des Obeaux took command two fences from the finish and strolled home.
He made a satisfactory comeback when runner-up to Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month, being undone by the heavy ground and longer distance than he faces at Kempton.
Clan Des Obeaux bids for legendary status by winning the King George for a third time
But Cyrname, the mount of stable jockey Harry Cobden, went into the race off the back of a draining win over Altior at Ascot in November, something which knocked both horses out of kilter for the rest of the season.
Nicholls insists the Cyrname that turns up today will be a totally different beast, having had ample time to recover from an impressive victory in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in October, one that proved his ability to stay three miles.
Nicholls, the 11-time champion trainer chasing his 12th win in the King George, said: ‘I don’t favour either horse. I am just trying to get both horses there at their best. If they are both at their very best there is not much between them. Clan is the defending champion, so that is an advantage. He is in pole position. He has had a great preparation and comes alive at Kempton. He is the one to beat without a shadow of a doubt.
‘It was nearly a career-best in my book at Haydock behind Bristol de Mai. Three miles and one-and-a-half furlongs was always going to be far enough and when it rained it didn’t help. He was very fit, which did help.
Paul Nicholls says Cyrname will be a totally different beast to one beaten 12 months ago
‘Cyrname is a totally different horse. He puts a lot into his races and takes a lot out of himself. I also don’t think he was quite right at Christmas last year, even allowing for the fact he had run at Ascot. It was a combination of having to work him quite hard having had a tough race.
‘Now he is doing loads because he has had a big gap and he is thriving on it.’
Nicholls also runs Real Steel and Cheltenham specialist Frodon, but concedes they both have something to make up with his two main hopes. So do the rest of the field.
Lostintranslation, last season’s Betfair Chase winner and Cheltenham Gold Cup third, was pulled up in the 2019 King George and he cut out quickly when beaten almost 50 lengths on his Betfair Chase comeback run this time. It is an inconsistent profile and the form of the Colin Tizzard stable remains patchy.
Supplementary entry Santini, as trainer Nicky Henderson admits, is not built for this speed track, but the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up could be placed.
In contrast, stamina is the question mark over Saint Calvados and Waiting Patiently, neither of whom have won a race over three miles.
That all means it will be a surprise if by this evening Nicholls isn’t celebrating his 12th King George win. But with which horse?
‘That’s an unfair question,’ Nicholls said. ‘But deep down if Clan won it would be amazing. For any horse to win three King Georges is special.’