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King George ‘not set in stone’ for Lostintranslation

Lostintranslation could swerve the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, connections have hinted.

The nine-year-old bounced back to form on his seasonal bow in the Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase at Ascot on Saturday, following a disappointing 2020-21 campaign when many of the Tizzard team’s horses were under a cloud.

A Grade One-winning novice chaser, Lostintranslation had impressed in the 2019 Betfair Chase but had not been successful since.

Yet he served to underline the yard’s resurgence in the Grade Two feature at Ascot, drawing four lengths clear of Master Tommytucker under a peach of a ride from Brendan Powell.

It was the 24th winner of the season for trainer Colin Tizzard and son Joe – who is set to take over the licence from his father next year – following a brutal campaign which yielded just 37 winners.

“This wasn’t so much a relief, it was just that we had put a lot of hard work in to get this horse back to where he should be,” said Joe Tizzard.

“So, it was just nice to see him manage to do on the track what he was showing us at home. It was difficult to go in there full of confidence without a run under our belts, so it was lovely to see him do what he did.”

He added: “He has come out the race well and seems fine this morning – he’s trotted up A1 and it is just lovey to have him back.

“We knew he was in good form at home, but he just had to prove it on the track after a tough year with him last year. It was the perfect result, really. It could not have been any better. He galloped right through the line and this was a lovely stepping stone to try to get him back to his best.

“He bled in the King George, stopped really quickly in the Denman Chase at Newbury and pulled up in the Gold Cup, so he wasn’t himself last season. We were really struggling and couldn’t get to the bottom of it, but he has come in a much healthier horse this year and we are getting the benefits of it.”

However, the yard will keep a watching brief with the son of Flemensfirth, before deciding whether or not he will run in Kempton’s Christmas showpiece, with underfoot conditions a key factor. The Gold Cup, in which he was third in 2020, is the ultimate aim.

Lostintranslation in full flight under Brendan Powell
Lostintranslation in full flight under Brendan Powell (Nigel French/PA)

Tizzard added: “We won’t make a decision on the King George yet – he has an entry in it, but we want to get him back for the spring Festivals, including the Gold Cup, so we won’t do anything to jeopardise that and will see how it turns out. It is not set in stone.

“He loves bouncing off a bit of decent spring ground, so that’s something to weigh up, as it can be easy ground at that time of year.

“We have got plenty of time and we will tick him over for a couple of weeks and see how he comes out of this, then chat to the owners and make a plan from there.”

Frost taken aback by King George reaction

Bryony Frost has been overwhelmed by the response to her victory aboard Frodon in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The 25-year-old wrote her name into the record books after becoming the first female jockey to win the Grade One contest following a fine front-running performance from both horse and rider.

Having had little time to come to terms with what she has achieved, Frost, whose victory was watched by 1.4 million people on ITV Racing, claims she is still taking everything in.

Frost said: “I woke up this morning and my first thoughts were ‘crikey, I’ve won the King George’. My world for the last 24 hours has been completely turned upside down with the amount of ‘well dones’ and love being sent the whole team’s way. It’s just epic.

“I think they said 1.4 million people viewed it. You can’t even comprehend that in your head – how people would have seen him and how epic he is. It’s a pretty cool thing and I don’t think it will ever sink in.

“(While I was) trying to keep up with my phone, I burnt my pizza last night! I managed to get a free coffee from the garage on the way home as I was chatting to the guy behind the till and he saw it. I got a free vanilla latte, which I was chuffed to bits with!”

With Kempton currently under Tier 4 coronavirus restrictions, only a handful of people were able to witness Frost and Frodon’s moment of glory on the track.

Bryony Frost gets a hug from trainer Paul Nicholls after Frodon's King George success
Bryony Frost gets a hug from trainer Paul Nicholls after Frodon’s King George success (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

However, she hopes plenty of noise was made in homes across the country in the absence of spectators.

“It’s afterwards (you realise). It’s gutting not to have the sports fans here shouting you in, giving you high-fives and a thumbs-up and things like that. I sure hope that in everyone’s living rooms or kitchens or wherever they were watching from, the roofs were coming off the houses instead of the roof here at Kempton,” Frost said.

“I talked to Paul (Nicholls) and he said there is nothing quite like the King George when all the spectators are here and they are always raising the roof for the King George winner.”

Plenty have praised Frost for her heroics in the saddle, but not every response to her landmark win has been positive.

She said: “The more success you have, the more people will frown at you as well as smile with you, so you have to accept it all.

“I’m very lucky I’ve got a supportive team and family around me and I’m starting to build that bubble in tight.

“I will never change myself because of what some opinions are, as that is not what you are supposed to do.

“As you grow up, you have to remain yourself and that’s the important thing.”

Making headlines is something Frost has made a habit out of throughout her career, but she still counts herself lucky to be in the position she is in.

A delighted Bryony Frost after riding Frodon to win the King George
A delighted Bryony Frost after riding Frodon to win the King George (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“As a kid my imagination was always running wild with the maybes, but after I started point-to-pointing, I realised how tough it is without support,” Frost added.

“I just think don’t look up too high, but keep focused on where you are at, making the best of things and surround yourself with the best people to be the best.

“My dad (Jimmy Frost) and my brother are the biggest people I admire and Ruby (Walsh) in his finesse of riding and his balance. I used to watch Ruby win the King George and that to me was mega with Paul’s team. Then to be associated with Paul and get my first couple of rides for him was great.”

Riding notable winners is nothing new to Frost, having also become the first woman to ride a Grade One winner over jumps at the Cheltenham Festival aboard Frodon in last year’s Ryanair Chase.

However, she feels her King George success may be her biggest achievement yet.

She said: “If you give me a month, I would probably be able to weigh up the two. They mean similar, yet are so different at the same time.

“It’s hard to judge. It would be like having two dogs or cats at home and trying to weigh them up, I guess.

“Yesterday, when it does sink in, we might just realise what we have achieved.”

Fabulous Frodon sees off all-comers in King George

Frodon and Bryony Frost sprang a 20-1 shock to win the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton Park.

Frodon, previously successful under Frost at this Grade One level when they won the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last year, was delivering a 12th victory in the Boxing Day showpiece for trainer Paul Nicholls.

To do so, they had to see off three better-fancied stablemates in Clan Des Obeaux – seeking his King George hat-trick – Cyrname and Real Steel.

Frost dictated a steady pace throughout – and as her rivals dropped away one by one, they repelled the field from the front to win by two and a quarter lengths and six lengths from Waiting Patiently and 85-40 favourite Clan Des Obeaux.

Frost and Frodon had been beaten more than 80 lengths in their last race at the start of this month – when, to the brilliant jumper’s detriment, several fences were omitted because of a low sun at Aintree.

The eight-year-old was back in his element here, however – and so too Frost.

On pulling up, she told ITV Racing: “We’ve just won the King George!

Paul Nicholls with Frodon
Paul Nicholls with Frodon (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“I have had the absolute best time going round there on him.

“The dark days, the hard words you get thrown at you, to gallop round there with him – he has just smashed everybody’s expectations.

“He’s gone round a track that’s the wrong way for him, always giving away ground a little bit at his fences.

“I got some amazing jumps from him. He’s what you dream of as a little girl – absolutely epic.”

Nicholls said: “He didn’t perform at Aintree the other day when the fences were taken out. He took the mickey out of us. I’ve done a lot with him since that day. I’ve been hard on him and he thrives on that.

“Obviously no one expected that, but he’s a very good horse. He’s always saved his best until now for Cheltenham.

“He’s one of those horses you can never underestimate. He’s tough and he’s genuine. He likes a battle and he’s beaten some good horses there fair and square.

“Turning in I thought he’d win. He had his ears pricked. He keeps finding and I thought then he’d be hard to beat.”

The Ditcheat trainer went on: “They went a right gallop and Bryony gave him a very good ride. I spoke to her last night and told her to go flat out over the first mile, then try to fill his lungs up and though two or three might go by you that is the way to ride him and the plan worked.

“That form puts him right in the Gold Cup picture because he loves Cheltenham. He’s better there than anywhere.

“The horses he has beaten here today means he is in the mix because he loves Cheltenham.

“A wonderful performance and wonderful to win the race again, even if it was a surprise. It’s nice to win the King George with another horse.

“Clan Des Obeaux ran a bit flat. We all make mistakes and the biggest mistake I made this season was to run him in the Betfair Chase. It got right to the bottom of him. Perhaps Haydock didn’t help him too much.

“I think Cyrname got behind and sulked a little bit. We have to review what we do with him. Both those horses had a great prep and I can’t offer any excuses.

“The only place you’d see Frodon run before Cheltenham would be the Denman Chase. I won’t give him a hard race in the Cotswold Chase. He can go fresh to Cheltenham, it would suit him well.

“Clan Des Obeaux won’t go to Cheltenham. I’ll find something else for him. I might run him at Punchestown or Aintree. He’s good fresh.

“It’s back to the drawing board with Cyrname. Real Steel will go down the Ryanair route. He’s not a three-miler.”

Nicholls added of Frost: “Bryony is good for the sport, like Hollie (Doyle) is good for the Flat. She rides very well and rides big winners.

“She’s unflappable and listens. We spoke for about an hour on the phone last night.”

North Yorkshire trainer Ruth Jefferson was left with mixed emotions following the fine effort of Waiting Patiently, who was having his first run since last year’s Tingle Creek Chase.

It was also only a second start at three miles, after unseating Brian Hughes in this race in 2018.

Jefferson said: “It’s a hard race to weigh up. He started off a bit keen, then he raced a bit lazily, then he looked outpaced, then he looked like he made ground up effortlessly and then he stayed on like a train up the straight.

“He definitely got the trip. I don’t know what to think, as it is great and fabulous and all those things, but slightly gutting at the same time. I’m getting good at getting placed in Grade Ones.

“He is not a difficult horse to get fit, he is just a difficult horse to keep sound. He ran an absolute blinder, he just couldn’t quite peg the winner back.

“I don’t know (if he is a Gold Cup horse). To be honest we will have to get him home and make sure he is all right. He has won a Grade One and you would like him to win another one, as he has finished third in a Tingle Creek and King George.

“What more can you ask from the horse?”

A very different Kempton in prospect – but still a King George to savour

It may be a different Ladbrokes King George VI Chase day at Kempton Park without the Christmas throng of racegoers due to Covid restrictions – but it is likely to be business as usual in the main event this afternoon.

Paul Nicholls has won the Boxing Day showpiece a record 11 times, and again appears to hold all the aces. The Ditcheat trainer is responsible for four of the nine runners as he bids to make it a dozen victories in one of the real highlights of the jumping calendar.

Clan Des Obeaux returns in front of packed stands 12 months ago - it will be a very different scene this year
Clan Des Obeaux returns in front of packed stands 12 months ago – it will be a very different scene this year (Steven Paston/PA)

Clan Des Obeaux, winner for the last two years, heads his quartet, although Nicholls is convinced there is nothing between him and Cyrname.

The latter has 21 lengths to find on his stablemate from the 2019 running, but Cyrname comes into the race on the back of a comfortable success in the Charlie Hall Chase, whereas last winter he had been in a tough battle with Altior at Ascot.

Can Cyrname turn the tables on his stablemate?

Cyrname arrives at Kempton at the top of his game
Cyrname arrives at Kempton at the top of his game (Bradley Collyer/PA)

This time it is Clan Des Obeaux who has had a hard race on his reappearance, when second to Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase. Having those two big guns would be enough for any trainer, but Nicholls also pitches in the ever-popular combination of Frodon and Bryony Frost and the former Willie Mullins-trained Real Steel.

It is not just going to be a Nicholls benefit, however. Far from it. Lostintranslation, from the Colin Tizzard yard, was a big disappointment last year and while he did not sparkle in the Betfair Chase his connections have not lost any faith in his ability. Nicky Henderson has also thrown a spanner in the works by supplementing Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Santini.

Epatante is the Christmas (Hurdle) cracker

Epatante bids for back-to-back victories in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle
Epatante bids for back-to-back victories in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle (Steven Paston/PA

Henderson holds the key to the main supporting race on the card, the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle. The Seven Barrows trainer is giving Epatante her last race before she bids to retain the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

The brilliant mare took this prize last year from Silver Streak and the Evan Williams-trained grey does battle again. Henderson also saddles Floressa, who won the same race at Newbury that Epatante won last term.

Blue is the colour for Skelton

Shan Blue will try to maintain his unbeaten record over fences in the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices' Chase
Shan Blue will try to maintain his unbeaten record over fences in the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (Tim Goode/PA)

The third Grade One event on the programme, the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, named after Nicholls’ five-time King George hero, has an open look to it.

Nicholls saddles Exeter winner Enrilo in a bid to claim a fifth success, but there are plenty of other promising young staying chasers in the line-up.

Dan Skelton in particular has a leading contender in Shan Blue, who has impressed in winning his two races over fences to date. The Big Breakaway, for the Tizzard team, has a big reputation and is expected to bounce back from defeat over an inadequate trip last time.

Harry Fry’s Grade One-winning hurdler If The Cap Fits and the Philip Hobbs-trained Kalooki could also have more to give over the larger obstacles.

Hughes believes ‘forgotten horse’ Waiting Patiently can make his mark in King George

Champion jockey Brian Hughes is hoping to “sneak in under the radar” with Waiting Patiently in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase.

Ruth Jefferson’s nine-year-old has not run since finishing third in the Tingle Creek last December and unseated in this race in 2018, but he is a Grade One winner in his own right and the lack of a recent outing is of no concern to Hughes.

He also has winning course form, and Hughes is taking encouragement from his Ascot Chase victory that he will see out the three-mile distance in the Boxing Day highlight at Kempton Park.

He told VBet: “It’s obviously a good race. There’s the likes of Cyrname and Clan Des Obeaux, who has won the last two King Georges, and lots of other very talented horses.

“But he’s in really good form at home. He hasn’t run since last December, but that’s never been a barrier for him before and he’s always done well after a long lay-off.

“I’ve had three away days with him and he’s schooled really well each time. Ruth is really happy with him and he’s as fit as you can physically get him at home.

“He’s always been the forgotten horse, probably because he’s not trained by a big southern yard but that suits us nicely as we can just sneak in there under the radar.

“The big question is whether he’ll stay. I guess the fact is no one really knows, but he got two (miles) five (furlongs) at a track like Ascot so that has to give you confidence.

“Everything’s gone well and we’re hoping he can run a huge race.”

Santini should not be underestimated in the King George, says Nico de Boinville
Santini should not be underestimated in the King George, says Nico de Boinville (Tim Goode/PA)

Nico de Boinville warns it would be folly to “underestimate or write off” the chance of Santini.

While accepting Kempton would not be the ideal track for the eight-year-old, the Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up has a CV that merits plenty of respect.

And trainer Nicky Henderson’s decision to supplement him for £5,000 was the right thing to do, according to De Boinville.

“Obviously, it was a late call by the guv’nor as to whether we supplemented him, but it made complete sense,” the jockey told Unibet.

“We know this isn’t his ideal track, as we saw in the Kauto Star at this meeting a couple of seasons ago, but it is not as if he ran a shocker that day and he is the third-favourite in a King George and that tells you it is well worth a roll of the dice.

Nico de Boinville is looking forward to riding Santini in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase
Nico de Boinville is looking forward to riding Santini in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase (David Davies/PA)

“He also happens to be one of the best staying chasers in the country, as we saw in the Gold Cup in March, and I am sure the Aintree run last month will have done him the power of good.

“I obviously wasn’t riding him there, but he clearly ran a very solid race from which to build from. The top two in the market clearly have big claims – my slight preference would be for Cyrname – but if people write my horse off or underestimate him, then so be it.

“The form book says they shouldn’t, and any more rain will not harm his chances either, as that would clearly put the emphasis more on stamina.”

Sam Twiston-Davies won the race 12 months ago on Clan Des Obeaux from his Paul Nicholls-trained stablemate Cyrname and is just as thrilled to be involved again.

“It’s nice to be at Kempton, first and foremost, on Boxing Day,” he told William Hill Racing.

“Christmas is obviously great and then when you’ve got that at the back end of it, it just makes it even more exciting.

“I’m lucky being born in a racing family – once you’d got that Christmas lunch out of the way there was only one thing you were thinking about and that was the runners the next day and was dad (Nigel Twiston-Davies) going to have a winner.

“To then be jumping in the car when we were kids to go to Boxing Day, with Imperial Commander and stuff in the past.

“Now to go and ride a horse with a good chance is literally the stuff you dream about when you’re young.”

Henderson happy to take King George chance with Santini

Santini will seek to justify an entry that initially “wasn’t the plan at all” when he takes his place in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up was not considered for the Boxing Day highlight originally, and Nicky Henderson still has his doubts about whether three miles at Kempton Park will see his stout stayer to best effect.

However, such is Santini’s appetite for the game, Henderson feels he is ultimately best served by having a tilt at King George glory before bidding for back-to-back victories in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in late January.

The Seven Barrows trainer said: “We were monitoring the entries, we knew what they all were and we knew there wouldn’t be a million runners. We’ve got to finish fifth to cover the supplementary fee (£5,000).

“We’ve got to be positive and he’s in very good form, so we’re up for it. Richard Kelvin-Hughes (owner) is a sportsman.”

Santini had to settle for second spot behind Lake View Lad in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree earlier this month, a Grade Two contest in which nine fences were omitted due to low sun.

Henderson said: “Aintree wasn’t really a satisfactory race – if I wanted to run him in a bending race, I’d have sent him to the gymkhana!

“He did run a very good race, though. Last year he began in a graduation race at Sandown and was desperately unimpressive, but he wakes up for racing – you can’t work him enough.

“If we had to wait another month to run it would have been so boring for him. I hope he’ll be sharper than he was at Aintree, but my worry is the track, it’s not a big, galloping track for a big, galloping horse.

“It wasn’t the plan at all, but it’s something to do before the Cotswold Chase. The more you throw at him the better he is, and within two days he’ll be bucking and squealing again.”

The Colin Tizzard-trained Lostintranslation was well fancied for last year’s King George off the back of winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock, but never really travelled with much zest and was eventually pulled up by Robbie Power.

Lostintranslation is a top-class performer on his day
Lostintranslation is a top-class performer on his day (Anthony Devlin/PA)

He bounced back to his best to finish third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup – but again has something to prove on his return to Kempton after finishing tailed off in heavy ground at Haydock last month.

Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “We are quite happy with where he is and he is ready to run.

“The only thing that came out of Haydock was that it was really heavy ground and though he is a big horse, Robbie mentioned he has always been a horse better on better ground.

“There is a bit of rain due to go through Kempton, but the ground won’t be like it was at Haydock. The horse has schooled well since then and he is in good form and we are looking forward to running him.

“He has got some good horses to take on that have been in really good form, but he was only beaten a length and a half in the Gold Cup and he looked like he was travelling the best for a long way, so we know he is a very good horse.”

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

Waiting Patiently is an interesting contender for Ruth Jefferson as he makes his first competitive appearance since finishing a close-up third in the Tingle Creek at Sandown 12 months ago.

The Flemensfirth gelding has only tackled three miles once before, when unseating Brian Hughes in the 2018 King George.

Jefferson said: “We took him for an away-day because he hasn’t run for a little while and he seems to have come out of that well. We weren’t desperate to get a run in as he’s not a stuffy horse, and he doesn’t want a lot of racing, so we could have given him a prep run and that could have been it for the season!

“The horse is fine and the ground is fine. As far as the distance is concerned, who knows? We hope this will tell us a lot, although last time we tried three miles we learnt nothing.

“If we didn’t have a go we’d always be wondering, so we’ll try it and see how we go.”

Harry Whittington’s Saint Calvados was last seen pushing Min all the way in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, having missed an intended prep run for the King George after suffering a setback.

“He is good fresh and we have done plenty of work with him at home. He was ready for the Betfair Chase, but he picked up that infection,” said Whittington.

“A King George first time out is not ideal, but with his rating (167), where else do we go?

“He is ticking all the boxes at home, so we will roll the dice.”

Black Op is no back number in the King George, according to his trainer Tom George
Black Op is no back number in the King George, according to his trainer Tom George (Simon Cooper/PA)

Black Op completes the nine-strong field – and his trainer Tom George suggests he is no forlorn hope.

“On face value you’d probably say he was up against it, but he’s run against some of these horses before and run well against them,” the Stroud handler told Sky Sports Racing.

“In the Hennessy (Ladbrokes Trophy), he didn’t quite see out the trip. He’s a Grade One winner over hurdles. He definitely warrants taking his chance and we came close to causing an upset with Double Shuffle a couple of years ago.

“He’s in good form, he’s a high-class horse. He wasn’t beaten far in the Grade One novice chase there last Christmas.

“He liked the track that day and is ready for a good run.”

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.

“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)

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.

Monalee forced to miss King George due to Irish travel ban

Horse Racing Ireland has announced that no Irish-trained horses or jockeys will be allowed to compete in the United Kingdom until December 31 in light of the Irish Government ban on UK travel.

In addition, no UK-based horses will be allowed to run in Ireland during that time.

The news is a blow to trainer Henry de Bromhead, who had intended to run Monalee in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase on Boxing Day and Put The Kettle On against Altior in the Desert Orchid Chase a day later.

De Bromhead said: “Obviously it’s disappointing, but that’s just the way the cards have fallen and that’s the way it is.”

Irish horses will be missing from Kempton's Christmas meeting
Irish horses will be missing from Kempton’s Christmas meeting (David Davies/PA)

Monalee has the alternative option of running in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown on December 28, in which he has finished second in each of the past two seasons, although his owner Barry Maloney already has the hot favourite for this year’s renewal in Minella Indo.

Arkle heroine Put The Kettle On could line up for the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase at Leopardstown 27.

“I don’t know whether they’ll go to Leopardstown or not – we haven’t made any plans yet,” De Bromhead added.

“They both have options, so we’ll speak to their owners and decide after that.”

Gordon Elliott looked set to be represented at Chepstow on Sunday in the Finale Hurdle, while Olly Murphy was intending to send Thomas Darby across the Irish Sea to Leopardstown, but updated guidance has put paid to those plans.

Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of HRI, said: “The concern from Government is very clear – these are exceptional times and a travel ban with the UK is a once-in-a-generation occurrence.

Arkle heroine Put The Kettle On was due to take on Altior this weekend
Arkle heroine Put The Kettle On was due to take on Altior this weekend (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“Irish racing has followed Government advice at all times during Covid-19 and will continue to do so.

“In that regard, we are advising that no Irish-trained horses or jockeys should travel to the UK for competition between now and December 31, and no UK horses or jockeys should travel in the opposite direction.”

Kavanagh added: “It’s a shame as runners from the different countries add to the meetings at both Kempton and Leopardstown, but these are unprecedented times.

“We’re hoping after the 31st the ban will be lifted, I think it’s a short-term thing to take stock.

“The main thing is racing can carry on behind closed doors.”

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.

“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!”

Waiting Patiently out to answer stamina questions in King George

Ruth Jefferson is keen to find out for sure if Waiting Patiently stays three miles in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The Grade One winner turns 10 soon yet has had only 13 races in his career -winning seven – and Jefferson herself describes him as “physically fragile”.

Waiting Patiently ran in the King George two years ago and was 4-1 second favourite behind Might Bite but got only as far as the ninth fence when he jumped into the back of Bristol De Mai and unseated Brian Hughes.

“I’m 99.9 per cent sure that is where we are going,” Jefferson told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

“He’s just a horse who is a little bit physically fragile. He’s a horse who only takes three races a year anyway.

“After he won the Ascot Chase in 2018 he got a bang on his tendon, (and) we thought we’d end up missing a whole year, but he didn’t. We brought him back for the King George when he got unseated and then we ran in the Ascot Chase when he was second to Cyrname.

“After that we went to Aintree – but he wasn’t right there, so we put him away and went for a Tingle Creek where he ran an absolute blinder but unfortunately after that he had a chip forming in his joint which had to be removed and meant he missed the rest of last season.

“Richard (Collins, owner) was very keen to try three miles again, so that is where we are going, the King George.”

Since his finest hour at Ascot in Feburary 2018, Waiting Patiently has run only four times.

“A lot of good horses now only run three times a season – it goes back to Henrietta Knight with Best Mate,” added Malton trainer Jefferson.

“If you get three runs out of a horse and they are all in Grade One or Twos and they run their race every time you kind of don’t mind.

“To finish so close in a Tingle Creek but then have to finish his season there was a little bit gutting – but we’re optimistic fools who train racehorses, so we’re back again.

“You can make a case for and against him getting the trip. We know he has the pace for two miles – but when he won the Ascot Chase against Cue Card they went an absolute gallop and it’s a very stiff climb to the finish there.

“He’d be the first horse in his family to stay three miles. He’s a half-brother to McFabulous, and I think I’m right in thinking they didn’t feel he stayed three miles at Newbury – but he does settle well and he won’t over-race.

“To be honest, we don’t know. If we’d found out two years ago we might not have been here this week. He might be one of those horses to whom trip is irrelevant. He’s definitely still got his ability, he hasn’t slowed down.

“All I really want is a clear round, then we’ll know if he stays or if he’s good enough. Two years ago he was nearly favourite, I think. Now we’re 25-1 and forgotten about.”

Nicholls struggling to separate King George headliners Clan and Cyrname

Paul Nicholls is heading to Kempton on Boxing Day with four live chances in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase – but he still does not think it is his strongest ever team.

Given Nicholls has claimed the Christmas highlight a record 11 times, he knows exactly what it takes to win, however, in five-times hero Kauto Star he has already had the perfect horse for the race.

Clan Des Obeaux will line up looking for a third win, though, while last year’s runner-up Cyrname is arriving having had an easier preparation. Frodon and Real Steel also represent Nicholls and would likely be leading contenders at most other yards.

“I don’t know if I can say this is my strongest hand – that would have been any year I had Kauto Star running for me, because he was virtually unbeatable!” said Nicholls.

“I’ve got the first and second favourites who both have great form at the track and the other two – it’s a great team of horses to have, I’m very lucky.

“People always ask me what I think and I tell the truth, I don’t think there’s anything between Clan and Cyrname.

“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.

“The other two, on all known form, are running for place money. You never know in racing, but I think Frodon and Real Steel have got it all on to beat Clan and Cyrname.

“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.”

A little extra spice was added to the race on Monday when Nicky Henderson supplemented Gold Cup runner-up Santini. With Gold Cup third and fourth Lostintranslation and Monalee in the field, there is plenty of strength in depth.

“A lot of them ran well in the Gold Cup, they are the best chasers in the land, but Kempton is a completely different track to Cheltenham. Clan is way better at Kempton, but it swings the other way for other horses,” said Nicholls.

“Possibly it is sharp enough for Santini, but he’s a high-class horse, as is Lostintranslation, but he disappointed in this last year and at Haydock. If they all turn up on their A game, it’s a very good race.

Al Boum Photo leads Lostintranslation, Santini, Monalee and Real Steel over the last in the Gold Cup. All bar the winner meet at Kempton
Al Boum Photo leads Lostintranslation, Santini, Monalee and Real Steel over the last in the Gold Cup. All bar the winner meet at Kempton (Jacob King/PA)

“Cheltenham doesn’t suit Clan, just like Silviniaco Conti. If he won a third King George, I’m sure he’d get a bigger fan club than he’s got now.”

Clan Des Obeaux was second to Bristol De Mai at Haydock first time out this season.

Nicholls said: “He was fit going there, he recovered quickly and he’s in good form. He schooled this morning with Sam (Twiston-Davies) and he’s ready to go.”

Cyrname, meanwhile, had a much easier time at Wetherby compared to last season when he had his battle with Altior.

“Harry (Cobden) schooled him as well this morning and Harry had a big smile on his face. His prep has been good and you’ll see a different horse preparation-wise to what we had last year,” said Nicholls.

Frodon may have to take a step forward but is a Ryanair winner at his best, while Real Steel showed up well in the Gold Cup to be sixth when with Willie Mullins.

“Bryony (Frost) schooled Frodon this morning, he’s been freshened up since he ran at Aintree and he’s in good form.

“Daryl Jacob is going to ride Real Steel, he schooled him this morning. He ran very well in the Gold Cup and the horses who were just in front of him there all feature.

“Ruby (Walsh) tells me he loves going right-handed, so he’s got a chance of running well.”

Nicky Henderson feels Kempton is unlikely to be Santini’s ideal track, but is keen to get another run into him.

Henderson said: “When you are in lockdown Tier 4, you haven’t got a lot to do on a Sunday afternoon (and) I had a bright idea about what to do with Santini.

“The Cotswold Chase is still five or six weeks away, so we supplemented him this morning for the King George party.

“We didn’t put him in originally because I’m the first to admit we don’t think Kempton will be his ideal track – but he’s very well in himself, and there’s nothing else to do.”

Harry Whittington’s Saint Calvados could make his seasonal bow in the Grade One feature – with Ruth Jefferson’s Waiting Patiently another who would be having his first outing of the campaign, having been off the track since last December.

The Henry de Bromhead-trained Monalee, who finished fourth in the Gold Cup, is the sole Irish entry – and Tom George’s Black Op completes the 10-strong list of contenders.

Santini supplemented for King George

Santini has been supplemented for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Nicky Henderson’s charge was beaten just a neck by Al Boum Photo in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup and returned to action with second place in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree this month, finishing a length behind Lake View Lad after a prolonged run to the line with the last two fences omitted.

The eight-year-old is expected to head back to Cheltenham next month to defend his Cotswold Chase crown, but Henderson felt it was worth stumping up £5,000 to add him to the Kempton field because the Milan gelding is in fine form at home.

Henderson said: “When you are in lockdown Tier 4, you haven’t got a lot to do on a Sunday afternoon (and) I had a bright idea about what to do with Santini.

“The Cotswold Chase is still five or six weeks away, so we supplemented him this morning for the King George party.

“We discussed it last night. We’ve been through everything this morning, and he’s so well in himself and passed all his medical checks.

“We didn’t put him in originally because I’m the first to admit we don’t think Kempton will be his ideal track – but he’s very well in himself, and there’s nothing else to do.

“He may as well gallop round Kempton rather than gallop around here for five weeks.”

Clan Des Obeaux will be bidding for a third King George win
Clan Des Obeaux will be bidding for a third King George win (Steven Paston/PA)

Clan Des Obeaux will be bidding for a hat-trick in the three-mile feature and he is one of four possibles for Paul Nicholls – along with Cyrname, Frodon and Real Steel.

The reigning champion finished second to Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase on his reappearance, while Cyrname arrives on the back of an impressive victory in the Charlie Hall Chase on his return at Wetherby back in October. However, he disappointed when only second to his stablemate in last year’s King George.

Frodon, winner of the 2019 Ryanair Chase, was last seen when well beaten in the Many Clouds Chase – while Real Steel was third on his initial outing for Nicholls at Ascot, having previously been trained by Willie Mullins.

Lostintranslation disappointed at Haydock last time
Lostintranslation disappointed at Haydock last time (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Lostintranslation was well fancied in last year’s renewal but was pulled up before going on to finish third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

He also lined up in the Betfair Chase for trainer Colin Tizzard, but was beaten 47 lengths and is on something of a retrieval mission here.

Harry Whittington’s Saint Calvados could make his seasonal bow in the Grade One feature – with Ruth Jefferson’s Waiting Patiently another who would be having his first outing of the campaign, having been off the track since last December.

The Henry de Bromhead-trained Monalee, who finished fourth in the Gold Cup, is the sole Irish entry – and Tom George’s Black Op completes the 10-strong list of contenders.

Monalee out to reward De Bromhead’s patience in King George

It was 10 years ago that Henry de Bromhead left his young twins and pregnant wife at Christmas to oversee Sizing Europe’s Ladbrokes King George VI Chase bid only for the meeting to be abandoned – but he hopes to finally have his first runner in the great race with Monalee on Boxing Day.

The scheduled 2010 renewal was eventually run on January 15 2011 and took place without Sizing Europe – but it did not do him any harm, because two months later he was successful in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Because of the complications with travelling in a post-coronavirus world, De Bromhead will not be at Kempton this time to witness Monalee in action, but he believes his representative holds solid claims of giving Ireland a first win since Kicking King’s second victory in 2005.

“Sizing Europe was supposed to run in it 10 years ago. We were over there and everything, but sadly it got cancelled (due to snow and frost),” said De Bomehead

Henry de Bromhead has struck up a fruitful partnership with Rachael Blackmore
Henry de Bromhead has struck up a fine partnership with Rachael Blackmore (PA Wire)

“We just felt the travelling over and back home had got to him a bit – so decided not to go back over when it was re-scheduled – and he ended up winning the Champion Chase, so it worked out well.

“That Christmas was horrific, though. I left my two-year-old twins and pregnant wife – and they haven’t let me forget it! With the situation we’re in at the moment, I’ll be staying at home this year anyway.”

Monalee, just touched off in the Savills Chase last Christmas, should arguably be at the peak of his powers – turning 10 in a few weeks – and he outran his 20-1 odds in the Gold Cup in March when beaten less than two lengths into fourth.

De Bromhead said: “We were thinking of going to Kempton with Monalee last year and decided against it, but we felt if we didn’t do it this year we’d never do it. I think the race should suit him and if we’re not there we’ve no chance.

“We said we’d give it a go. He seems in great form, so why not?”

For the third season in a row, Monalee could finish only third on his return to action, but he was up against top-class opposition in Presenting Percy and Kemboy at Thurles.

De Bromhead said: “Thurles was his normal first run of the season, but we’re probably more used to that now.

“Last year we were a bit disappointed after his first run, and that probably had a bit to do with us not travelling last year.

“This year we are used to it. It was fine, he took a nice blow at the third last, so he’ll improve plenty for the run and he seems in mighty form now.

“I’m not sure if there’s any improvement in him, but he’s rated 170. I think when you are up at those ratings it’s more a case of who is in the best form on the day, who does the race suit, who gets the run of the race.

“I felt we didn’t get the run of the race in the Gold Cup. I don’t know if he has to improve – I think he’s as good as any of the ones he’s taking on, and we’ll see on the day.

“Obviously he’s not been before, but we’re hoping the track will suit.”

Given the growing prominence of the Leopardstown Christmas meeting these days, the Irish challengers at Kempton are fewer and fewer, but De Bromhead believes it is still one of the great races – with jockey Rachael Blackmore set to bid to add to her Grade One tally.

“To win it would be amazing – it’s obviously one of the highlights of the year, and it would be fantastic if we could,” he said.

“Being a Grade One, Rachael is allowed to come over and ride, so I’d say it’s highly likely once she passes her Covid test and goes through the protocols they have in place.”

Tizzard retains faith in Lostintranslation

Joe Tizzard believes Lostintranslation can show his true colours in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Lostintranslation disappointed in the Christmas showpiece last year, and more recently also put in an under-par run when attempting to repeat last year’s victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.

However, the eight-year-old is giving the right signals again at home as he prepares for Kempton next week.

“The only real worry is if the ground goes too soft, because Lostintranslation has shown he cannot handle testing conditions,” said Tizzard, assistant trainer to his father Colin.

“He certainly seems a much better horse at home at the moment.

“He did a cracking piece of work on Tuesday morning, and fingers crossed the ground hasn’t been too bad at Kempton yet this season. If it can handle the bit of rain coming through the next couple of days then the forecast doesn’t look too bad leading up to next week.”

Lostintranslation was beaten almost 50 lengths into third at Haydock last month – with Clan Des Obeaux, set to re-oppose in pursuit of his King George hat-trick, a long way in front of him in second that day.

Tizzard said: “The only concern is we’re coming off the back of a bad run – but he had to go into the Gold Cup (in which he was a close third) on the back of a bad run last season as well.

“I think the horse has proved his ability enough now that if we can get him right and on his A game he can be very competitive in these races.

“We’re not worried about the track at Kempton, because in the past he’s shown plenty of pace.

“We’re happy with where he is, but he has to bounce back from last time. He’s done it before, and we’re happy with where he is at the moment.”

Tizzard added in a zoom call for the Ladbrokes Christmas Festival that he fears the Paul Nicholls-trained pair of Clan Des Obeaux and Charlie Hall Chase winner Cyrname.

Dual King George winner Clan Des Obeaux will be among the opposition for Lostintranslation at Kempton
Dual King George winner Clan Des Obeaux will be among the opposition for Lostintranslation at Kempton (Steven Paston/PA)

“I can see it cutting up to being five or six runners again, but it’s as competitive as ever,” he said.

“Clan Des Obeaux did nothing wrong at Haydock. He travelled like the winner and just got beaten by Bristol De Mai in his own backyard. He (the winner) has proven time and time again he loves Haydock on that ground.

“Seeing Cyrname do what he did at Wetherby proves he’s right back to his brilliant best as well.

“They are the two main ones to beat in there. Paul Nicholls is saying he can’t split them, and we’ve all got to go a bit to take them on.”

The Tizzards have their eye on the other three-mile Grade One on the Boxing Day card, the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, with The Big Breakaway.

Like Lostintranslation, The Big Breakaway has to a point to prove after being turned over at long odds-on at Exeter.

“Initially when he was beat at 2-9 it was very disappointing – but when we looked back they had just hack-cantered round,” said Tizzard.

“(Jockey) Robbie (Power) was having to do all his own donkey work.

“It was only the horse’s fifth run for us, so we’re learning all the time. We tried to get some more experience into him, and we got caught out a little bit.

“We’ve talked about putting headgear and cheekpieces on him. But Robbie said we don’t need to yet, let’s run him in a better race and we won’t be making the running. Let’s do that first.

“Don’t write him off.”

Tizzard is confident going back up to three miles can only be a plus and that The Big Breakaway can go all the way to the top.

“The idea of dropping him back in trip was to try to sharpen him up – because even at Cheltenham (on his successful chasing debut) he found things too easy,” he added.

“But it backfired on us. I’m sure three miles is his trip.

“He’s proved he got three miles at Cheltenham, so I don’t think we’ll be dropping him back to two and a half miles again.

“He’s got stacks if ability. We’ve got some nice novices this year, but I think he’s right at the top of the tree.

“He’s horse that within a few runs has gained this big reputation. He is very exciting. He’s just got this one blip, and we hope we can put that behind us on Boxing Day.”