Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
Top horse-racing tips and the latest news.
PAUL Nicholls has given an upbeat report on dual King George VI Chase winner Clan Des Obeaux ahead of the £160,000 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on Saturday.
The eight-year-old bids to secure the seventh win in the extended three miles and one-furlong contest for Nicholls who won it with Kauto Star four times (2006, 2007, 2009 & 2011) and twice with Silviniaco Conti (2012 & 2014).
Clan Des Obeaux is a general 5-2 shot for Saturday’s feature, where the betting is headed by 2019 winner Lostintranslation (15-8) ahead of 2017 and 2018 winner Bristol de Mai (5-4) who was second last year.
Clan Des Obeaux showed his liking for Haydock when winning a graduation chase over an extended two miles and five furlongs on Betfair Chase Day in 2017 and Nicholls this week said Clan Des Obeaux was “as good as ever” ahead of the valuable contest that has attracted a field of five runners.
“Clan Des Obeaux looks amazing at the moment, as good as ever I would say,” Nicholls said ahead of his charge’s first run since finishing eighth in the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
“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 Grade 1 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.
“Sam Twiston-Davies came in and schooled Clan Des Obeaux [on Monday] and is going to ride him on Saturday. The horse jumped very well this morning, 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 [holidays] and perhaps in the spring we will look to go to Punchestown.
“I have always thought Punchestown would suit him well and the Grade 1 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.
Horse Talk with Simon Jackson. Showcasing horse racing in London and the south east.