Can Clan Des Obeaux make it a hat-trick of wins in the King George?

On December 5, 2020 by Siddharth Chauhan

When thinking of prestigious horse races in England, the first that springs to mind is the Cheltenham Gold Cup. You may even consider the Grand National, run at Aintree. But over the festive season, there’s a Grade 1 race that is up there as one of the most important, and lucrative – the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

The Boxing Day fixture is not only the highlight of Kempton’s Christmas Festival, but among the highlights in the early chase season. And looking to land the best present of them all – a hat-trick of King George titles – is Clan Des Obeaux.

The Paul Nicholls-trained horse has won the race for the last two editions, and is amongst the early favourites on sites like Betdaq to retain his crown. But the big question is, has he got what it takes to etch his name into the history books, alongside legends such as Desert Orchid (four wins) and Kauto Star (the leading horse with five wins)?

The eight-year-old gelding recently returned to action at Haydock for the Lancashire Chase, and despite a break of 253 days, which included having wind surgery, he finished second to Bristol De Mai, by a margin of two lengths. At odds of 9/4, both the winner and Clan Des Obeaux were the second joint-favourites behind Lostintranslation, who finished in third. And it could well be a battle between ‘Clan’ and Colin Tizzard’s bay once again on Boxing Day.

Lostintranslation made his Kempton debut in the Grade 1 race last December and the gelding pulled up from three out, with Tizzard citing breathing problems. He had been in good form, prior to that result, with three consecutive wins under his belt, the most recent of those being in the 2019 Lancashire Chase. But coming into this year’s King George, the eight-year-old’s form has slipped. Both results have come in Grade 1 races, with a third-placed finish at the Gold Cup, as well as that aforementioned placing at Haydock.

The early markets also suggest that Clan’s stablemate Cyrname is best-fancied for a shot at his crown. The French-bred has raced twice since last year’s King George, and after jockey Harry Cobden fell at the final hurdle in the Ascot Chase, back in February, the duo returned to winning ways in October, at Wetherby. In fact, Cyrname gave Nicholls a one-two finish in the Chase last Boxing Day, and despite a large margin of 21 lengths between the two stablemates, the rivalry will be renewed this yuletide.

But Clan Des Obeaux will be looking to add his name to the history books, with a third successive victory. In securing his crown last year, he joined a long list of horses who have won the race more than once, but only Desert Orchid and Kauto Star have won the King George three times in a row, with the latter winning it four successive years between 2006 and 2009. Following defeat at Haydock, Nicholls gave his concerns: “If we’d known a month ago it was going to be that sort of heavy ground, we might have done something

different.” He continued: “We would have preferred it not to be such of a war of attrition against a horse who is brilliant in those conditions. Clan is tough, so he should be OK, but it’s roles reversed. Cyrname will be the one going into the King George a bit fresher.”

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