Nicholls holds whip hand in bid to make it a dozen King George crowns

Pirate IRWIN
·3-min read

Clan des Obeaux's biggest obstacle to joining jump racing legends Desert Orchid, Kauto Star and Wayward Lad as a three-time winner of the King George VI Chase on Saturday could be stablemate Cyrname.

Victory for either would give trainer Paul Nicholls his 12th in the race that is second only to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in prestige.

Cyrname was put in his place by Clan des Obeaux in last year's renewal finishing 21 lengths in arrears.

Both have tuned up well for the contest that is normally packed to the rafters at Kempton Park but due to coronavirus will be empty this year.

Nicholls, 58, saddles four of the nine runners with the gutsy Frodon -- who has formed a fabulous partnership with Bryony Frost -- and Real Steel his other two starters.

If punters were hoping for help from Nicholls to give them a steer as to which of his two leading fancies to back then they would be sorely disappointed.

"I can't split Clan and Cyrname to the point that if you gave me £500 to back one of them I wouldn't know what to do," he told bookmaker's Betfair website.

Nicholls did concede in his view Cyrname came to the race this year with a better preparation than Clan des Obeaux.

Cyrname impressed in winning the Charlie Hall Chase in late October whilst Clan des Obeaux performed honourably in second behind Bristol de Mai in a top class chase last month.

- 'A bright idea' -

"He (Cyrname) wasn't right last season in several ways after his stirring defeat of Altior in their epic duel at Ascot," said Nicholls.

"Both horses gave their all that day and were not the same afterwards

"I was thrilled with his impressive victory in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby where he jumped as straight as an arrow and sprinted up the run in with his head in his chest."

Nicholls, though, also purred about Clan des Obeaux run behind Bristol de Mai.

"It was as good as he has ever run first time up, he looks great and is definitely ready to go," he said.

If there is to be a party spoiler the chances are it will be either Santini or Lostintranslation, who finished second and third respectively in this year's Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Clan des Obeaux flopped in March's Gold Cup finishing eighth.

Santini's trainer Nicky Henderson supplemented him for the race on Monday.

"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," joked the urbane 70-year-old.

“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."

Lostintranslation finished well behind Clan des Obeaux both in last year's King George and his prep race this season.

"We still have complete faith in him," said Joe Tizzard, assistant trainer to father Colin.

"If we get him right he can be competitive in these top races and we're delighted with him at the moment."

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