By Andrew Atkinson
Paul Nicholls reports Clan Des Obeaux (3.00) as good as ever ahead of the G1 £160,000 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on Saturday over the extended 3m 1f race.
Owned by Paul Barber, Ged Mason and Sir Alex Ferguson, eight-year-old Clan Des Obeaux has won the last two runnings of the G1 Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
He is also a winner at Haydock Park, having landed a graduation chase over an extended two miles and five furlongs on Betfair Chase Day in 2017.
Clan Des Obeaux, fourth on his outing at Haydock Park in the 2018 Betfair Chase, when finishing eighth in the 2020 G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, is best priced 3-1.
Nicholls a record six times courtesy of Kauto Star (2006, 2007, 2009 & 2011) and Silviniaco Conti (2012 & 2014) said: “Clan Des Obeaux looks amazing at the moment, as good as ever I would say.
“He didn’t run in the Betfair Chase last year, when he went to Down Royal instead, but he ran in the race two years ago. “That was one of the first times we had run him in G1 company and he probably wasn’t fully wound up that day. In my mind, I was thinking whether he was good enough to be a King George horse.
“He progressed from Haydock to win at Kempton and actually ran better at Haydock than we thought he would.
“This time, he will be ready to run to his best at Haydock. All of our good chasers have run well first time up this season and Clan Des Obeaux has been back in since July 1.
“He has had an away day with Politologue and looks great, very fit. There is no point going into this race thinking he will need the run and hoping he can improve at Kempton. There is plenty of time between Saturday and Kempton and he is ready to run.
“Clan Des Obeaux is a dual King George winner and we have set out to try and win the Betfair Chase this year and not just use the race as a prep for Kempton.
“All of our chasers are in really good shape and he has a good chance on the weekend. I suppose if he had gone on and won a Gold Cup, he would have received more recognition than he has, but any horse that can win two King Georges is very smart.
“He is a big, strong horse who gallops and stays. He probably hasn’t shown his best form going left-handed, but he has won at Haydock before.
“He loves the track at Haydock as it is a flatter track than Cheltenham.
“He is a proper sort of horse and is only eight so is probably at his peak now. He just looks a different horse now. He is more athletic and stronger, and his work has been very good.
“There has been a lot of rain about but if the going at Haydock is as it is now, he will definitely run there.
“The weather forecast looks encouraging and it is all systems go. I don’t think he has won over a distance as far as the three miles, one and a half furlongs at Haydock on Saturday but I don’t think it is a problem.
“He is dead simple to ride and you can slot him in anywhere. A small field will not be a problem.
“I would say Lostintranslation (11-10f) would be the biggest danger as he won the race last year and with the Tizzards coming into some form now.
“Although he disappointed in the King George, he won the Betfair Chase very nicely last year. Bristol de Mai (2-1) has been a fantastic horse over the years and been involved in some real old battles.
“He is not getting any younger but always runs well at Haydock. If he comes back to his best, he is always going to be a danger.
“Sam Twiston-Davies came in and schooled Clan Des Obeaux and is going to ride him on Saturday. Harry Cobden is going to be at Ascot. The horse jumped very well, is very fresh and I am very happy with him.
“The Betfair Chase and the King George are the races we are targeting this side of Christmas and perhaps in the spring we will look to go to Punchestown.
“I have always thought Punchestown would suit him well and the G1 at Aintree would also suit him well if he was fresh and well.
“He could also potentially go down in trip and something like the Betfair Ascot Chase could suit him as he likes Ascot and goes well right-handed. There are plenty of options.
“Harry will ride Cyrname in the King George and go down the Gold Cup route. Clan Des Obeaux won’t be going down the Gold Cup route and Sam won the King George on him last year and it is easy for him to ride him on Saturday.
“I have got some nice rides for Harry at Ascot, so it just works out really well.”
Speaking ahead of the Betfair Chase, Nicholls said: “The Betfair Chase has been fantastic, especially with all the memories of Kauto Star.
“In particular, when Kauto Star won for the fourth time it was an amazing day. We felt incredibly lucky and then along came Silviniaco Conti, who went on to win two Betfair Chases.
“It has been a very good race for us and is a race we really like.”
Betfair Spokesman Barry Orr said: “It is shaping up to be a cracking sixteenth renewal of the iconic race.
“Lostintranslation and Bristol de Mai couldn’t be separated in the market last year but this time around the 2019 winner is clear favourite at 5/4 while the two times winner Bristol de Mai is 7/4.
“Dual King George winner Clan Des Obeaux is sure to have plenty of backers with his trainer Paul Nicholls sounding very positive about his chances and looks a bit of value at 3/1.”
Competitive handicap action is provided by the £80,000 G3 Betfair Exchange Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle with Third Wind (2.25) ridden by Jonjo O’Neill jnr and trained by Hugh Morrison selected each-way by fromthehorsesmouth.info.
The going at Haydock Park is soft, good to soft in places.
Flick Ou Voyou (12.10) trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Harry Skelton is tipped by fromthehorsesmouth.info to win the Betfair Newton Novices Hurdle, bidding for a fourth consecutive win.
Pop Rockstar (12.40) is tipped each-way by fromthehorsesmouth.info under Jonjo O’Neill jnr in the C2 Betfair Handicap Chase over 3m 1f.
Master Tommy Tucker (1.15) trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies is tipped to win the Betfair Exchange Graduation Chase to follow up a victory at Huntington this month.
Kid Commando (1.50) ridden by Aidan Coleman is selected each-way by fromthehorsesmouth.info in the C2 Betfair Handicap Hurdle over 2m 2f.
Kings Monarch (3.35) trained by Kerry Lee and ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies is tipped each-way by fromthehorsesmouth.info in the C3 Betfair Stayers Handicap Chase over 3m 4f.