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Secret Investor springs Denman Chase surprise

Secret Investor repelled stablemate Clan Des Obeaux in a thrilling climax to the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury.

Trainer Paul Nicholls had saddled nine previous winners of the recognised Gold Cup trial, with Ditcheat greats Kauto Star (2007) and Denman himself (2008) both claiming victory en route to Cheltenham glory the following month.

Dual King George hero Clan Des Obeaux, who won a rescheduled running of the Denman Chase at Ascot two years ago, was the 6-5 favourite to get back on the winning trail, having finished third when bidding for a hat-trick in Kempton’s Boxing Day showpiece on his latest outing.

However, just as he did in the King George when Frodon claimed the prize, the nine-year-old had to make do with minor honours as a lesser-fancied stable companion made every yard of the running under Bryony Frost.

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Secret Investor was a 14-1 shot, but jumped and travelled with zest to keep the pressure on the chasing pack.

Clan Des Obeaux loomed up looking a big threat under Harry Cobden, but Frost’s mount refused to bend on the run-in and after a titanic tussle, it was Secret Investor who found most for pressure to win the day by a neck.

While the race is viewed as a Cheltenham trial, Aintree was uppermost in Nicholls’ mind after the race.

He said: “I couldn’t see that happening, but having said that, he ran well in it last year and just kept galloping.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if both head now to Aintree for the Bowl.

“I told Bryony to ride him from the front because we wanted a good pace for Clan, but Harry said his horse was just carrying his head a bit high, which leads me to think we should put cheekpieces on him next time.

“It’s something we’ve considered to sharpen his mind and we gave him the benefit of the doubt until today.”

Secret Investor (right) and Clan Des Obeaux duel to the line
Secret Investor (right) and Clan Des Obeaux duel to the line (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Aintree is also on the agenda for Nicholls’ Ascot Chase runner-up Master Tommytucker, although plans are undecided for stablemate Cyrname who was pulled up in the same race.

He said: “Master Tommytucker has some out of Ascot very well and will now go for the Melling Chase at Aintree, but with Cyrname he just can’t breathe and we’ll have to see with him.”

There was a sad postscript to the Denman Chase as the David Bridgwater-trained The Conditional suffered a fatal injury, with Nicholls expressing his condolences.

He added: “I was very sorry to see Bridgy lose his stable star just now and we all feel for him.”

Clan Des Obeaux seeks Nicholls’ 10th Denman Chase success

Dual King George hero Clan Des Obeaux is the star attraction in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury.

Trainer Paul Nicholls has saddled nine previous winners of Sunday’s Gold Cup trial, with Ditcheat greats Kauto Star (2007) and Denman himself (2008) both claiming victory en route to Cheltenham glory the following month.

Clan Des Obeaux, who won a rescheduled running of the Denman Chase at Ascot two years ago, is not even entered in the Gold Cup this season – with his dislike of Prestbury Park’s undulations well proven at this stage of his career.

The nine-year-old had to make do with minor honours in third when bidding for a hat-trick in the King George at Kempton on his latest appearance, but Nicholls hopes he can open his account for the campaign on a track where he is unbeaten in two starts.

He said: “Clan des Obeaux is in good form and he’s won this race before, when it was restaged two years ago at Ascot.

“There’s this thing that he’s better right-handed, but he’s run very well left-handed and has won at Newbury twice before. A flat track suits him nicely, so we won’t be complaining about that.

“His run at Haydock (when second in the Betfair Chase) was very good, and I think we can improve on Kempton.

“We’re in slightly calmer waters than his previous two at Haydock and Kempton, but this race has been the goal.”

Clan Des Obeaux (right) winning his first King George under Harry Cobden
Clan Des Obeaux (right) winning his first King George under Harry Cobden (Julian Herbert/PA)

Harry Cobden is back on board Clan Des Obeaux for the first time since finishing eighth in last season’s Gold Cup, and is looking forward to renewing the partnership.

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“He’s in really good form at home. I schooled him earlier in the week, and he’s been working well,” said the jockey.

“He came out of the King George well and he’s in good form, (so) we’re hoping for a good run.”

Nicholls also runs Secret Investor, who was runner-up to Native River in this race 12 months ago.

Secret Investor joins stablemate Clan Des Obeaux in the Denman Chase
Secret Investor joins stablemate Clan Des Obeaux in the Denman Chase (Jeff Holmes/PA)

He added: “Secret Investor wouldn’t want the ground too soft. He’s a much better horse on spring ground and when he’s fresh.

“With his rating in the early 160s, it makes it hard for him in handicaps, so he’ll run as well.”

Clan Des Obeaux’s biggest threat appears to be the talented but difficult to predict Lostintranslation.

Colin Tizzard’s charge won last season’s Betfair Chase at Haydock before going on to finish a close-up third in the Gold Cup, but has failed to fire both at Haydock and in the King George this season.

Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard is hoping the combination of a recent wind operation and an upturn in stable form in recent weeks will lead to an improved performance this weekend.

“We had him in the Ascot Chase and the Denman this weekend, and the decision to run at Newbury is purely based on ground,” said Tizzard.

“Had it been nice ground we were actually quite keen on the Ascot race over two-miles-five around there.

“Newbury takes the rain well, and we’ve had a couple of dry-ish days there this week. The ground going to be good to soft/soft, which is what we want for him.

“We’re happy with him going into the race.”

Nicky Henderson’s Champ was due to take on Clan Des Obeaux and Lostintranslation in the Denman Chase last weekend, but the decision to put the meeting back eight days after the original fixture was lost to frost prompted a surprise change of plan.

The JP McManus-owned gelding will instead make his first competitive appearance since his last-gasp victory at last year’s Cheltenham Festival over an extended two miles in the Betfair Game Spirit Chase.

While connections acknowledge the trip is on the short side for a horse viewed as a legitimate Gold Cup contender, the Game Spirit is viewed as a more suitable comeback target – with the blue riband less than four weeks away.

The owner’s racing manager Frank Berry said: “Nicky is happy with him – and rather than give him a slog over three miles, Nicky thought that maybe running over two miles might sharpen his jumping.

“He’s had a few niggly problems that have held him up, but Nicky thinks he’s in good form, so we’ll see how we get on.”

Paul NichoGreaneteen takes on Champ in the Game Spirit lls Stable Visit
Greaneteen takes on Champ in the Game Spirit (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The likely favourite for the Grade Two contest is Nicholls’ Greaneteen, who was last seen filling the runner-up spot behind stable companion Politologue in the Tingle Creek at Sandown in December.

“I think there is more to come, and next year he’ll be even better than he is now – he’s going to get better with experience,” said Nicholls.

“He’s in good shape and fit and ready to run very well.

“I don’t want to make the wrong decision and run him in the wrong race at Cheltenham, so this will be a good guide as to how much he’s improved and where we should end up going.”

The Ditcheat handler also runs Dolos and Magic Saint – while Alan King is represented by the high-class Sceau Royal, and Venetia Williams’ Fanion d’Estruval completes the sextet.

Denman Chase Trends

Staged at Newbury racecourse the Betfair-sponsored Denman Chase is a Grade Two race that is run in February each year.

First run in 2000, the Denman Chase is always a hotly-contested race that is run over a trip of 3 miles, and over the years has provided plenty of clues ahead of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Four horses have won this race before going onto land the Cheltenham Gold Cup that same season – Kauto Star (2007), Denman (2008), Coneygree (2015) & Native River (2018).

In 2017 – Native River won the Denman Chase before running third in the Gold Cup, but in 2018 he went one better after landing both the Denman Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The race was upgraded to Listed status in 2002 and then promoted further in 2003 to a Grade Two – which it remains at today.

The contest was originally sponsored by the Aon Group, but in 2012 leading betting exchange – Betfair – took over the sponsorship mantle, and in the process also renamed the race the ‘Denman Chase’ in honour of the 2008 winner.

Since 2000 leading National Hunt trainer – Paul Nicholls – has won the race 9 times, while if you like your trends it’s worth noting that 7 of the last 13 winners of the Denman Chase were aged 7 years-old – backed up again in 2019 with the Paul Nicholls-trained Clan Des Obeaux winning as a 7 year-old.

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However, it was the turn of a returning champion in Native River in 2020 – this Colin Tizzard chaser and former Gold Cup winner, landed his third Denman Chase under jockey Jonjo O’Neill Jnr.

Here at GEEGEEZ, we look back at recent winners of the race and highlights the key stats ahead of the 2021 renewal – this year staged on Sunday 21st February.

 

Recent Denman Chase Winners

2020 – Native River (2/5 fav)
2019 - Clan Des Obeaux (2/5 fav)
2018 - Native River (8/11 fav)
2017 – Native River (11/10)
2016 - Houblon des Obeaux (3/1)
2015 – Coneygree (15/8 fav)
2014 – Harry Topper (7/2)
2013 – Silviniaco Conti (8/11 fav)
2012 – Long Run (4/7 fav)
2011 – Noland (13/2)
2010 – Tricky Trickster (8/1)
2009 – Madison du Berlais (12/1)
2008 – Denman (1/4 fav)
2007 – Kauto Star (2/9 fav)

Denman Chase Trends

15/17 – Had won at least 4 times over fences (UK) before
15/17 – Had won over at least 3m (fences) before
14/17 – Rated 150+
13/17 – Placed favourites
13/17 – Ran within the last 6 weeks
13/17 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
12/17 – Aged 8 or younger
11/17 – Winners that went onto race in that season’s Gold Cup (4 winners)
11/17 – Had won over fences at Newbury before
10/17 – Raced at either Cheltenham (4) or Kempton (4) last time out
8/17 – Won last time out
8/17 – Winning favourites
7/17 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
7/17 – Irish bred
6/17 – French bred
5/17 – Winning distance – ¾ length or less
4/17 – Winners that went onto win the Gold Cup (Coneygree, Denman, Kauto Star & Native River)
3/17 – Returned a double-figure price
3/17 – Ridden by Richard Johnson
3/17 – Trained by Colin Tizzard
2/17 – Won by the Pipe stable
7 of the last 14 winners were aged 7 years-old
The average SP in the last 14 runnings is 3/1

 

 

 

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Five challenge Champ in Game Spirit return

Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Champ is set to face five rivals in the Betfair Game Spirit Chase at Newbury on Sunday.

Having been off the track since claiming a last-gasp victory in what is now the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival, Nicky Henderson’s charge was originally due to make his long-awaited return in the three-mile Betfair Denman Chase.

However, with Newbury’s Betfair Super Saturday card pushed back eight days after the original fixture was frozen off, Henderson has decided to instead run Champ over an extended two miles in the Game Spirit, due to the meeting’s proximity to the Festival.

Henderson said: “Champ is absolutely flying at home, his prep has all gone to plan. Obviously, we changed the races and are going for the two-mile Betfair Game Spirit instead of the three-mile Betfair Denman, but we think it’s the right thing to do.

“He hasn’t run for nearly a year so it will be a less tough race over two miles than it would be over three. With less than four weeks until the Gold Cup, it’s getting a bit tight for him to have a hard race.

“It’s really great to have moved the meeting – I must say a huge well done to Newbury, Betfair, ITV and the BHA. These races are important.”

Nicky Henderson has a big day in store at Newbury
Nicky Henderson has a big day in store at Newbury (Bradley Collyer/PA)

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The likely favourite for the Grade Two contest is the Paul Nicholls-trained Greaneteen, who was last seen filling the runner-up spot behind stable companion Politologue in the Tingle Creek at Sandown in December.

The Ditcheat handler also runs Dolos and Magic Saint, while Alan King is represented by the high-class Sceau Royal.

Fanion d’Estruval, trained by Venetia Williams, completes the sextet.

In Champ’s absence, Nicholls’ dual King George hero Clan Des Obeaux will be a warm order for the Denman Chase.

The nine-year-old could finish only third when bidding for a hat-trick at Kempton on Boxing Day, but is odds-on to win this prize for the second time, having struck gold two years ago when the race was run at Ascot.

Clan Des Obeaux runs in the Betfair Denman Chase
Clan Des Obeaux runs in the Betfair Denman Chase (John Walton/PA)

Nicholls has a second string to his bow in Secret Investor.

Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation disappointed in the King George, just as he did last season, but undoubtedly has the talent to give Clan Des Obeaux a run for his money if he can bounce back to the form that saw him finish third in last year’s Gold Cup.

Amy Murphy steps stable star Kalashnikov up to three miles for the first time over fences, while David Bridgwater runs The Conditional in a bid to find out whether he deserves a tilt at Gold Cup glory.

Jeremy Scott has declared Dashel Drasher, but has confirmed he is set to take his chance in Saturday’s Betfair Ascot Chase.

Cepage (Venetia Williams) and Terrefort (Henderson) are the other hopefuls.

Buzz (yellow cap) on the way to victory at Ascot
Buzz (yellow cap) on the way to victory at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The most valuable race on the card is the £125,000 Betfair Hurdle, for which a maximum field of 24 runners are set to go to post.

Henderson, who has already won the race on five occasions, launches a three-pronged assault, with top-weight Buzz joined by Fred and Mister Coffey.

He said: “All three for the Betfair Hurdle are in great form at home. With the ground drying up, it was a slightly last-minute decision to declare Fred, but this has been the plan for Buzz and Mister Coffey all along.

“Kevin Brogan will ride Buzz and came down to sit on him last week, it’s great to have a top-class conditional on board, especially with Buzz being top-weight. I couldn’t pick between them – they’re all debating in the yard who will run best!”

Nicholls also has a trio of runners in Wild Max, Friend Or Foe and Thyme White.

Cadzand has a leading chance in the Betfair Hurdle
Cadzand has a leading chance in the Betfair Hurdle (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Other leading fancies include Dan Skelton’s Cadzand, the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Soaring Glory and Edwardstone from Alan King’s yard.

Cadzand is on a hat-trick after wins at Warwick and Kempton, and Skelton said: “It’s great news the meeting has been rearranged, a huge well done to everyone at the BHA and Newbury for making sure these important races go ahead.

“Cadzand is ante-post favourite for the Betfair Hurdle, and we have had this race in mind for him for a while now. He looks well, I am happy with him, he jumped well this morning and is all set and ready to go.

“There will be no excuses for him on the day.”

Nicholls adamant Frodon is ‘in the mix’ for Gold Cup

Paul Nicholls is confident Frodon can make his presence felt in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Ditcheat trainer saddled four runners in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, with much of the pre-race attention focusing on the rematch between his dual winner Clan Des Obeaux and the highest-rated chaser in the country Cyrname.

That pair ultimately failed to run up to expectations, and instead the stable’s apparent third string stole the show – making the much of the running under his regular partner Bryony Frost, who became the first female jockey to win the festive highlight.

Despite his victory, Frodon is a 16-1 shot for the Gold Cup, but Nicholls reports his charge to have taken his King George exertions in his stride and insists he is no forlorn hope for steeplechasing’s blue riband at Prestbury Park in March.

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He said: “Frodon is mad fresh. When he is like that he is at the top of his game – he is really well.

“Frodon will go straight to the Gold Cup. Bryony rode a brilliant race on him, and he was the best horse on the day.

“No one will expect him to win the Gold Cup – but if he did win it, it would be no surprise (to me).

“Someone said the other day Santini ran the best Gold Cup trial in the King George (finished fifth). But I would beg to differ – Frodon ran the best Gold Cup trial without a shadow of a doubt.

“He loves Cheltenham and loves to be fresh, so it puts him in the mix.”

Paul Nicholls with Clan Des Obeaux
Paul Nicholls with Clan Des Obeaux (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Clan Des Obeaux had to make do with minor honours in his bid for a King George hat-trick, while Cyrname was pulled up.

Nicholls added: “I’ve got to work out where I go with Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname. But Clan won’t have an entry in the Gold Cup, so that has ruled that out.

“I think we want to go back to riding Cyrname positively. That start at Kempton might not have suited him. He was a bit slow out of the gate, and he got behind a couple, and then it didn’t unfold.

“I think he wants to be ridden a bit more aggressively. When he won the Charlie Hall at Wetherby, he managed to get wide and was tanking along and jumping brilliantly. He wasn’t able to do that the other day.

“He is quite a timid horse at home and always has been. It might just be that he needs to be back ridden positively.

“If Clan had followed Frodon he might have beaten him, but ‘if’ is a big word.”

2020 King George VI Chase Betting Trends

Staged at Kempton Park racecourse on Boxing Day (26th Dec) the King George VI Chase is the highlight contest on the festive racing calendar as 'once-a-year' punters try and get their Christmas turkeys paid for by the bookies.

With star names like Desert Orchid, One Man and, more recently, Kauto Star, who won the King George Chase a staggering five times, amongst the household names to land this decent pot then the 3m Grade One race never fails to attract the best longer distance chasers in training, while it’s also seen as a good guide to that season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.

We take a look back at recent winners and highlight the key stats to take into the 2020 renewal – this year run on Saturday Dec 26th, where the Paul Nicholls-trained Clan Des Obeaux, who has landed the last two renewals, will be trying to defend his crown.

 

Past King George VI Chase Winners

2019 - Clan Des Obeaux (11/2)
2018 – Clan Des Obeaux (12/1)
2017 - Might Bite (6/4 fav)
2016 – Thistlecrack (11/10 fav)
2015 – Cue Card (9/2)
2014 - Silviniaco Conti (15/8 fav)
2013 – Silviniaco Conti (7/2)
2012 – Long Run (15/8 fav)
2011 – Kauto Star (3/1)
2010 – Long Run (9/2)
2009 – Kauto Star (8/13 fav)
2008 – Kauto Star (10/11 fav)
2007 – Kauto Star (4/6 fav)
2006 – Kauto Star (8/13 fav)
2005 – Kicking King (11/8 fav)
2004 – Kicking King (3/1 fav)
2003 – Edredon Bleu (25/1)
2002 – Best Mate (11/8 fav)
Note: The 2005 renewal was staged at Sandown Park

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King George VI Chase Trends

16/18 – Had raced within the last 5 weeks
16/18 – Had won a Grade One chase before
16/18 – Finished in the top three last time out
16/18 – French (12) or Irish bred (4)
15/18 – Returned 9/2 or shorter in the betting
15/18 – Placed favourites
15/18 – Had won over 3m or further (fences) before
14/18 – Officially rated 169 or higher
14/18 – Aged 8 or younger
11/18 – Winning favourites
11/18 – Won last time out
11/18 – Had won a race over fences at Kempton before
10/18 – Ran in the Betfair Chase (Haydock) last time out
10/18 – Aged 6 or 7 years-old
9/18 – Trained by Paul Nicholls (11 times in all)
8/18 – Won by a previous winner of the race
2/18 – Won by an Irish-based yard (only 3 in the last 34 runnings)
Colin Tizzard and Nicky Henderson have trained 5 of the last 10 winners (2 Tizzard, 3 Henderson)
The average winning SP in the last 18 years is 4/1

 

 

 

 

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Boxing Day TV Trends: Sat 26th Dec 2020

A huge day on Boxing Day, but the festive highlight, as racing resumes after a three-day break, is the King George VI Meeting at Kempton Park.

The King George VI Chase is the feature race of the day as punters will look to get their Christmas expenses paid for – a race in recent years we’ve seen horse racing greats like Kauto Star, Long Run, Best Mate, Kicking King, One Man and, more recently, Thistlecrack, Might Bite, landing the prize – while the Paul Nicholls-trained Clan Des Obeaux has landed the last two King George VI Chases.

Plus, at Wetherby the ITV cameras are also heading there to take in the Grade 3 Rowland Meyrick Chase.

We take a look at each race on the Kempton card and highlight the main trends, plus the Rowland Meyrick Chase – hopefully this will help you narrow down the fields and point you in the direction of a few winners.

 

Kempton Horse Racing Trends (RacingTV/ITV)

12:40 – Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Novices' Hurdle Race 2m RTV

13/13 – Had raced in the last 8 weeks
12/13 - Aged 4 or 5 years-old
10/13 – Favourites placed in the top 3
10/13 – Returned 7/2 or shorter in the betting
10/13 – Winning distance 3 lengths or more
9/13 – Had won a NH Flat race before
7/13 – Won just once over hurdles before
7/13 – Winning favourites
5/13 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
3/13 – Ridden by Richard Johnson
Fred (9/2) won the race 12 months ago

 

1.15 – Play Ladbrokes 5-A-Side On Football Novices’ Limited Hancicap Chase (Gbb Race) Cl3 (4yo+ 0-140) 2m 4 1/2f ITV

16/16 – Aged 7 or younger
15/16 – Had won between 0-1 times over fences in the UK
13/16 – Raced within the last 5 weeks
10/16 – Placed 1st or 2nd last time out
8/16 – Placed favourites (1 joint)
8/16 – Officially rated between 119 and 125
8/16 – Carried 11-5 or more
7/16 – Winning distance – 6 lengths or more
6/16 – Winning favourites (1 joint)
5/16 – Won by a French bred horse
5/16 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
4/16 – Won last time out
3/16 – Ridden by Richard Johnson
2/16 – Raced at Kempton last time out
Commanche Red (4/1) won the race 12 months ago

1.50 – Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices´ Chase (In memory of Nigel Clark) (Grade 1) Cl1 3m ITV

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17/17 – Raced within the last 6 weeks
16/17 – Placed in the top two last time out
13/17 – Won last time out
13/17 – French (7) or Irish (6) bred
12/17 – Had won at least 2 times over fences in the UK
11/17 – Winning distance – 3 lengths or more
11/17 – Aged 6 or younger
11/17 – Went onto run in that season’s RSA Chase (no winners)
10/17 – Returned 5/2 or shorter in the betting
9/17 – Aged 6 years-old
9/17 – Placed favourites
9/17 – Had won (chase) over at least 3m before
8/17 – Raced at Newbury last time out
7/17 – Winning favourites
3/17 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
2/17 – Trained by David Pipe
2/17 – Ridden by Tom Scudamore
2/17 – Raced at Cheltenham last time out
1/17 – French trained
1/17 – Went onto run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (One winner - Coneygree 2015)
Slate House (3/1) won the race 12 months ago

 

2.25 – Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 2m ITV

16/18 – Raced within the last 6 weeks
15/18 – Had won at least 4 times over hurdles before
15/18 – Placed favourites
14/18 – Returned 11/4 or shorter in the betting
12/18 – Went onto run in the Champion Hurdle (Faughan (2015), Buveur D’Air (2018), Epatante (2019) winners)
11/18 – Won last time out
10/18 – Winning favourites
10/18 – Went onto finish in the top 5 in the Champion Hurdle that season
9/18 – Had run over hurdles at Kempton before
8/18 – Irish trained
8/18 – Ran in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle (Newcastle) last time out
7/18 – French bred
7/18 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
4/18 – Trained by Noel Meade
2/18 – Trained by Jonjo O’Neill
2/18 – Trained by Willie Mullins
Epatante (2/1) won the race 12 months ago

 

3.00 – Ladbrokes King George VI Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 3m ITV

16/18 – Had raced within the last 5 weeks
16/18 – Had won a Grade One chase before
16/18 – Finished in the top three last time out
16/18 – French (12) or Irish bred (4)
15/18 – Returned 9/2 or shorter in the betting
15/18 – Placed favourites
15/18 – Had won over 3m or further (fences) before
14/18 – Officially rated 169 or higher
14/18 – Aged 8 or younger
11/18 – Winning favourites
11/18 – Won last time out
11/18 – Had won a race over fences at Kempton before
10/18 – Ran in the Betfair Chase (Haydock) last time out
10/18 – Aged 6 or 7 years-old
9/18 – Trained by Paul Nicholls (11 times in all)
8/18 – Won by a previous winner of the race
2/18 – Won by an Irish-based yard (only 3 in the last 34 runnings)
Colin Tizzard and Nicky Henderson have trained 5 of the last 10 winners (2 Tizzard, 3 Henderson)
The average winning SP in the last 18 years is 4/1

 

3.35 – Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Handicap Hurdle Cl3 (3yo+ 0-140) 2m5f RTV

 

13/13 – Won no more than 3 times (UK Hurdles)
12/13 – Aged 6 or younger
11/13 – Won between 0-2 times hurdles (UK)
10/13 – Returned 8/1 or shorter
10/13 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
9/13 – Carried 11-2 or more in weight
9/13 – Ran 5 or less weeks ago
8/13 – Officially rated 120-129
8/13 – Won last time out
7/13 – Aged 5 or 6 years-old
7/13 – Unplaced favourites
6/13 – French bred
3/13 – Winning favourites
2/13 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
Honest Vic (10/1) won the race 12 months ago

 

Wetherby Horse Racing Trends (RacingTV/ITV)


2.05 – William Hill Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 3m45y ITV

11/12 – Aged 8 or younger
11/12 – Had won 3 or less times over fences (UK)
10/12 – Didn’t win last time out
10/12 – Aged 7 or 8 years-old
10/12 – Raced in the last 5 weeks
10/12 – Returned 9/1 or shorter in the betting
9/12 – Had raced at Wetherby before
8/12 – Carried 11-0 or less in weight
8/12 – Had won over 3m (chase) before
7/12 – Unplaced in their last race
7/12 – Irish bred
4/12 – Raced at either Haydock (2) or Aintree (2) last time out
3/12– Winning favourites
Top Ville Ben won the race in 2019
Lake View Lad won the race in 2018

 

 

 

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Nicholls has big guns primed for King George action

Paul Nicholls expects Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname to serve up a Boxing Day treat in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase.

Clan Des Obeaux has won the last two renewals of the Kempton Park showpiece, and had esteemed stablemate Cyrname some 21 lengths behind 12 months ago.

However, there is little to separate the pair at the top of the betting for the rematch, with Clan Des Obeaux warming up for his hat-trick bid with a runner-up finish behind Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase, and Cyrname oozing class on his Charlie Hall comeback.

Nicholls said: “Clan is the defending champ, he’s won two and you do get horses winning multiple King Georges. To win three would be brilliant, but Cyrname has a good record around Kempton and is in a completely different place compared to last year.

Paul Nicholls with Clan Des Obeaux after wining last year's King George
Paul Nicholls with Clan Des Obeaux after wining last year’s King George (Steven Paston/PA)

“I don’t think there’s much between Cyrname and Clan. Clan has the advantage as he has such a great track record and has won the last two, so it will be very interesting.”

Reflecting on Clan Des Obeaux’s latest Haydock effort, Nicholls said: “I think it was one of his best runs, considering the ground. Obviously it suited Bristol De Mai, who loves that heavy ground. It was a shame it rained.

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“Clan always does come on for a run, but I made sure he was ready for Haydock because we went there hoping we might win. If the ground had been different it may well have been a different result, but he ran well in the circumstances.

“I think three and a quarter miles, as it almost was, on that ground, is far enough for him on his stamina – the time of the race was well over seven minutes.

“Kempton obviously suits him a lot better and he’s well ready now.”

Having inflicted a first defeat over jumps on Altior at Ascot the previous month, Cyrname was all the rage for last year’s King George, but ultimately proved no match for Clan Des Obeaux.

But Nicholls expects the eight-year-old to make more of a race of it on Saturday, having had an extra three weeks to recover from a less bruising first run of the season at Wetherby.

“Cyrname has had the ideal preparation,” said the Ditcheat handler.

“I didn’t want to run him after winning the Charlie Hall as it gave us a good eight to 10 weeks to prepare him for Kempton, unlike last year, when he had a hard race at Ascot.

“He’s very well. He wasn’t right last year as he never really got over the Ascot race. He ran well in the King George to be second, but was nowhere near his best.

“He looks great now and is more relaxed in everything he does, which means he can get three miles.

“He’s got a good record at Kempton and doesn’t have to go tearing off in front like he used to – he’s a different animal now.”

Frodon appears to have his work cut out
Frodon appears to have his work cut out (David Davies/PA)

Nicholls also saddles Frodon and Real Steel in a bid to add to his record haul of 11 King George wins.

Frodon was last seen in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree, while Real Steel was third in the 1965 Chase at Ascot on his first start for the yard, after finishing sixth in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup when trained by Willie Mullins.

Nicholls added: “It was a waste of time for Frodon at Aintree – it was like the last time he went there when they took all the fences out. It’s probably not the ideal track for him, he never got in a rhythm.

“He deserves to be in the line-up. He’s got a mountain to climb to beat the others, but he deserves to be there.

“I’ve only just been learning about Real Steel and he’s improved massively for his first run.”

Clan and Cyrname feature in nine declared for King George

Stable companions Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname are two of nine runners declared for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

Clan Des Obeaux proved much too strong for Cyrname when successfully defending his crown in the Kempton showpiece 12 months ago and is on course to complete the hat-trick under Sam Twiston-Davies.

However, Cyrname looked back to his best when making an impressive start to the current campaign in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and appears set to make more of a race of it for the rematch. As last year, Harry Cobden takes the ride.

Frodon (Bryony Frost) and Real Steel (Daryl Jacob) complete a four-pronged assault for trainer Paul Nicholls as he bids to add to his record haul of 11 King George victories.

Celebrations for the Clan Des Obeaux team at Kempton
Celebrations for the Clan Des Obeaux team at Kempton (Steven Paston/PA)

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Nicky Henderson is represented by Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Santini (Nico de Boinville), who was a surprise addition to the race after being supplemented on Monday.

The Colin Tizzard-trained Lostintranslation (Robbie Power) failed to fire in last year’s King George and again has something to prove, after finishing a well-beaten third in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month.

There were fears Power would miss the ride after travelling to Ireland last weekend, but despite a change in travel restrictions between the two countries, he is set to return to Britain.

Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father, said: “I was worried for no more than two seconds as I spoke to Robbie and he said he had sorted it.

“Jonjo O’Neill Jnr would have probably been re-routed, but we never had to cross that bridge.”

Power is hopeful Lostintranslation will show his true colours, saying: “I’m looking forward to riding Lostintranslation in the King George and The Big Breakaway in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase – they’re two good rides to have.

“Lostintranslation has got to bounce back, but it won’t be the first time he’s had to bounce back – he bounced back to finish third in the Gold Cup last year.

“I think the ground is the key to him and it looks like we’re going to have some nice ground in Kempton.

Waiting Patiently (right) returns from a lengthy absence
Waiting Patiently (right) returns from a lengthy absence (Julian Herbert/PA)

“He was probably a bit flat going into the race last year on the back of running at Carlisle and Haydock.

“He’s got to put a disppointing run at Haydock behind him this year, so hopefully he can do that.”

Ruth Jefferson’s long-absent stable star Waiting Patiently (Brian Hughes), Tom George’s Black Op (Tom Scudamore) and Saint Calvados (Gavin Sheehan) from Harry Whittington’s yard complete the field.

The only horse not declared was Henry de Bromhead’s Monalee, who is unable to make the journey to Kempton.

Twiston-Davies claims Clan is ‘more complete’ as hat-trick bid looms

Sam Twiston-Davies believes Clan Des Obeaux is the complete package as he goes in search of a third successive victory in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The famous race is littered with multiple winners down the years – with Kauto Star winning five time, Desert Orchid four, Wayward Lad three and some of National Hunt racing’s other greats claiming two, such as Pendil, Captain Christy, Silver Buck, The Fellow and One Man.

Clan Des Obeaux is therefore looking to enhance his status in an elite club, with trainer Paul Nicholls chasing an incredible 12th win in the Christmas highlight.

According to the bookmakers, his biggest danger is stablemate Cyrname, who was second last year and with stable jockey Harry Cobden once again siding with him, Twiston-Davies keeps the ride on Clan Des Obeaux.

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“Before we won last year, I’d watched Clan very closely in the race from the year before and spoke to Harry. We talked about tactics and what might happen,” said Twiston-Davies.

“Harry was brilliant – he told me everything I needed to know about my lad, but he didn’t actually tell me much about Cyrname.

“Clan was fantastic. He jumped, he travelled, and he winged every fence down the back. Then, when I asked him to pick up, he winged the second-last and off he went. The rest is history.”

Before winning his first King George, Clan Des Obeaux had finished fourth in the Betfair Chase at Haydock to Bristol De Mai – but this year he went even closer in second behind the grey, trained by Sam’s father, Nigel.

“I rode him again on his first start of this season at Haydock when it was very soft ground. He jumped beautifully, travelled great and he felt like he was coming there to win the race,” Twiston-Davies told William Hill.

“Something I’d say is that the heavy ground at Haydock suited Bristol De Mai. That race is his Kempton, so I take a lot of positives out of that race for Clan.

“He has his own kind of way of jumping – you leave him to it, and he is very good. He’s very economical, efficient and, at the same time, he has plenty of scope.

“I guess he’s grown up and, physically, he’s probably a little bit stronger this year – hence he can deal with heavy ground better than he used to. You could say he’s more complete now.

“I went to see him in the week and I’m looking forward to Kempton. From a jockey’s point of view, it’s just about trying your best and enjoying it.

“I just hope he can do something similar to last year. That would be nice. Between now and Boxing Day, it’s just a case of holding on tight, that’s the long and short of it!”

Clan on course for King George despite ‘little cut’ at Haydock

Paul Nicholls reports Clan Des Obeaux on course to bid for a hat-trick of victories in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase, despite picking up a slight injury at Haydock.

The Ditcheat trainer has revealed the eight-year-old suffered an overreach cut when beaten two lengths by Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase on Saturday.

It is not a serious setback, however, and Nicholls expects Clan Des Obeaux to be back in training by the weekend.

Nicholls said: “He actually stumbled at the start and did quite a nasty overreach on the bulb of his heel – Sam (Twiston-Davies) could easily have got unseated.

“For a couple of strides Sam was looking down and wondering what had happened.”

“He had a little cut, so it means he is going to have an easy week this week, canter him on Saturday and then quietly build up his fitness again over the next month.”

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Bearing that in mind, Nicholls was delighted with Clan Des Obeaux’s performance in a race run in attritional conditions.

“It was an awesome run,” he said.

“I thought all the way up the straight he was going to go and win, but you knew Bristol De Mai was going to be hard to go by.

“I think the rain they had before racing made the ground very heavy, which counted against us. I think we ran out of stamina from the back of the last.

“It was great preparation for the King George.

“Admittedly, he probably had a harder race than I would have liked, but he was fit and well for that day and he will get over it quickly. I think it was one of his best runs.”

Cyrname finished second behind his stablemate in the King George last Christmas and is set to take on Clan Des Obeaux again after winning the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.

“This year Cyrname had a run at Wetherby, and I wanted to give him an extra month,” said Nicholls.

“He has come out of that really well, as opposed to having a mega hard race against Altior, which was too close to Kempton – and I never really had him right afterwards. I am very happy with his progress.

Cyrname is set to take on Clan des Obeaux again in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase
Cyrname is set to take on Clan des Obeaux again in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“They are going into it a little bit in reverse to last year. Last year Clan had the run in October and had a long period to build up to Kempton – now he has had a very hard race only a month before. I think it won’t be a problem for Clan – he will get over it quicker than Cyrname would have done.

“They have both had a great preparation, and I think it will bring them a lot closer. I know that Cyrname wasn’t right last year. Clan will be very hard to beat at Kempton – he loves it round there – but I think it will be very interesting. It is a job to split them.”

Trainer Paul Nicholls plans to have a strong team for the Kempton's Christmas cracker
Trainer Paul Nicholls plans to have a strong team for the Kempton’s Christmas cracker (John Walton/PA)

Nicholls could have as many as four runners in Kempton’s Boxing Day feature, with Frodon and Real Steel also possible contenders.

“I think Real Steel will improve enormously for his run on Saturday, and he is a lively outsider,” he said.

“Frodon is going to run in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree on December 5, and then that gives him three weeks. He thrives on his racing, so he could easily go as well.”

Nicholls confident in Clan stamina ahead of Betfair bid

Paul Nicholls is confident Clan Des Obeaux will have no problem getting the trip when he attempts to give the trainer a seventh Betfair Chase success at Haydock.

The eight-year-old will make his seasonal return in the Grade One prize, in which he finished fourth in two years ago, ahead of attempting to defend his Ladbrokes King George VI Chase crown at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Although Clan Des Obeaux is yet to win beyond three miles, the 11-times champion trainer expects him to have enough stamina to see out the extra furlong and a half on Merseyside.

Nicholls said: “He travels well and you could put him anywhere. You would want to reserve a little bit of stamina as it is three miles, one and a half furlongs.

“He has not won over that trip before, but I don’t think it is a problem – you just ride him accordingly and slot him in anywhere.

“Sam (Twiston-Davies) and Harry (Cobden) both said if the King George was three miles, one and a half last year, he would have still won, so I don’t think the trip is an issue.”

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With stable jockey Cobden set to go to Ascot at the weekend, Clan Des Obeaux will be reunited with Twiston-Davies for the first time since the pair won last year’s King George VI Chase.

Nicholls added: “Sam Twiston-Davies came in to ride him this morning as he will ride him on Saturday, as Harry is going to Ascot and if Cyrname gets to Kempton, Harry will ride him.

“He jumped very well this morning. He was very fresh and I was very happy with him.

“Sam won the King George on him last year and it’s easier for him to ride him Saturday, so it works out well like that.”

Nicholls had considered giving Clan Des Obeaux an alternative entry in the Grade Two Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase at Ascot on Saturday, but with the ground at Haydock not set to be testing, all roads will lead there.

Nicholls said: “If they had forecast torrents of rain at the end of the week and you ended up with Haydock being very heavy, I was thinking of putting him in at Ascot to cover my options.

“If the going at Haydock is as it is now, he will definitely run there. The forecast looks encouraging and there is no cold weather, so it’s all systems go.”

Lostintranslation is the rival trainer Paul Nicholls fears the most (Anthony Devlin/PA Images)
Lostintranslation is the rival trainer Paul Nicholls fears the most (Anthony Devlin/PA Images)

Assessing the potential opposition, Nicholls believes last year’s winner, and Gold Cup third, Lostintranslation represents the biggest danger to stopping Clan Des Obeaux from adding a third Grade One victory to his CV.

He added: “Lostintranslation looks to be the main one. The Tizzards are running into some form now.

“Though he was disappointing in the King George he won this race very nicely last year and he would probably be the one to beat.

Bristol De Mai is a dual Betfair Chase winner
Bristol De Mai is a dual Betfair Chase winner (Clint Hughes/PA)

“Bristol De Mai has been a fantastic horse over the years and we’ve had some real old battles, but he isn’t getting any younger, although he always runs very well at that track. If he came back to his very best, he is always a danger.

“We’ve set out to try to win this race and not go there as prep to Kempton. He has got a big chance at the weekend.”

Bellshill and Keeper Hill complete the five entries for the race.

Hopes high at Ditcheat title can be reclaimed

With a host of exciting new arrivals joining forces with several established stars returning for more, there is good reason why Paul Nicholls is heading into the new season full of optimism.

Though dethroned as champion trainer by Nicky Henderson last term, the coveted crown could be heading back to Nicholls and Manor House Stables for a 12th time with his team possessing plenty of strength in depth.

Helping Nicholls enjoy success on the big stage in recent times has been the emergence of Clan Des Obeaux, who has developed into a genuine Grade One performer thanks to back-to-back wins in the King George VI Chase.

A third shot at glory in the Boxing Day feature beckons before Nicholls will explore an alternative route for the eight-year-old, who for the second year running came up short in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Nicholls said: “I’m thinking of starting off in the Betfair Chase at Haydock then going to Kempton as it suits him well, so the King George on Boxing Day will be his main target.

“He won’t have a Cheltenham Gold Cup entry as like Silviniaco Conti he seems a stone worse there. After Christmas I’m thinking of doing things a bit differently and my main aim then would be the Punchestown Gold Cup.

“We could get him nice and fresh for that and let the others do battle at Cheltenham and Aintree. He is eight now, but I think he is as good now as he has ever been.”

An outing in the Gold Cup remains the target for the returning Topofthegame, who will tread the same path Denman did before landing the blue riband in 2008, by taking in the Ladbrokes Trophy – formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup – as a first port of call.

Nicholls said: “If we can keep him right we know he has a huge amount of ability and we are aiming to go to the Ladbrokes Trophy. I’m not sure what we do straight after Christmas but the Gold Cup will be our sole aim.

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“The season out hasn’t done any harm as he strengthened up and matured and he looks great. Denman won an RSA and went on to win a Gold Cup and I’d like to think this lad can do the same.”

After becoming the first horse to lower the colours of Altior over jumps in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot, Cyrname failed to reach those heights in two subsequent starts last term – but Nicholls is confident the eight-year-old can bounce back beginning in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal.

He said: “Nothing went right after beating Altior at Ascot. He had a hard race there and never really got over it in time before Kempton and the ground in the Ascot Chase was desperate.

“The plan is to go to Down Royal and we will know truly if he gets three miles, if he does we will go to Kempton on Boxing Day. If he doesn’t get three miles at Down Royal he has no chance of getting three miles at Kempton.

“I’m not bothered about going left-handed now with him and if you watch him at Ascot last season he was jumping out a little to his left.”

Politologue finally gained the Cheltenham Festival success missing from his CV with victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in March, and everything will be geared towards the defence of his crown in five months’ time.

Nicholls said: “He had a few issues bleeding and he had a bleed in the Tingle Creek. I rang John (Hales, owner) and said I don’t want to run him before Cheltenham and just leave me to have him ready for the day.

“It was probably the best we ever had him and though the race fell apart a bit he could have still been very hard to beat.

“He will go straight to the Tingle Creek. We will have him ready for his life like he was at Cheltenham.

“There are always new horses coming through, but he is still capable of competing at the top level.”

Truckers Lodge will be campaigned with the Randox Health Grand National in mind (Tim Goode/PA)
Truckers Lodge will be campaigned with the Randox Health Grand National in mind (Tim Goode/PA)

It is eight years since Nicholls tasted glory in the Randox Health Grand National with Neptune Collonges, and in Truckers Lodge he could have a horse capable of giving him  a second victory in the Aintree marathon.

He said: “We had a plan to try to win the Welsh National and he wasn’t beaten very far. If we had more confidence in his staying ability we could have had a different result.

“He won the Midlands National impressively and the Grand National will have to be the target this season.

“There is a £25,000 limited handicap over three and a quarter miles at Kelso at the end of the month and we will probably start him there and then give him an entry in the Ladbrokes Trophy.”

Nicholls has often excelled with his novice chasing team and Betfair Hurdle winner Pic D’Orhy could prove the pick of those switching to fences this campaign.

He said: “He won the Betfair Hurdle last season, but he was bought to be a chaser. He has just started to jump nicely. He just needs to give fences a bit more respect as he is not a natural that has a bit of scope and respect for them.

“He is likely to go to Market Rasen for the race I won with Ayzertyuiop and Dynamite Dollars. It is a good starting point for him.”

Laurina is one of a number high-class recruits sent to Paul Nicholls by owner Jared Sullivan (Julian Herbert/PA)
Laurina is one of a number high-class recruits sent to Paul Nicholls by owner Jared Sullivan (Julian Herbert/PA)

A recent wind operation will hopefully help revive the fortunes of Grade One winner Laurina – one of 16 horses Nicholls has received from owner Jared Sullivan over the summer.

Nicholls said: “She started off very well last season beating Minella Indo, then she bled twice I’m led to believe. We’ve done her wind and I’m hoping that was one of the reasons making her bleed.

“I’m going to start her off in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot over two-mile-three. We could mix and match as there are some good mares’ chases in this country.”