King George VI Chase: Nicholls targets 12th victory in Kempton Park showpiece

Kauto Star won the King George VI Chase five times for Paul Nicholls, who has won the feature race of the season at Kempton Park 11 times. (Pic: Courtesy of Kempton Park).

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PAUL Nicholls has won the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase a record 11 times and has a great chance of adding to the tally in this year’s renewal at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

At the time of writing, the final field has yet to be revealed for Kempton’s feature race of the season, where Nicholls has a strong hand with four of the 16 entries for the three-mile, Grade 1 contest.

Nicholls’ team is headed by 2018 and 2019 King George winner Clan Des Obeaux and last year’s 21-length runner-up Cyrname, who are joint favourites at 15-8 with Paddy Power.

Frodon, the 2019 Ryanair Chase winner and Real Steel – sixth in this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup – have also been entered by Nicholls who won the King George with See More Business (1997 & 1999), Kauto Star (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2011), Silviniaco Conti (2013 & 2014) and Clan Des Obeaux.

Clan Des Obeaux was second to Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase [Haydock] on his comeback and Cyrname won the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase on his reappearance. Nicholls said it is difficult to split the pair.

“I have been very pleased with Clan Des Obeaux since Haydock,” the trainer said. “He did have a hard race [in the Betfair Chase]. It was more testing ground than we would have liked, but he was very fit going into the race, which helps.

“Any horse who wins two King Georges is a very good horse. He hasn’t performed at Cheltenham, so he may be a little underrated, but if he went and won a third King George that would be special. He is very good around Kempton and that’s what we are focusing on.

“I definitely don’t think Cyrname was anywhere near his best last year. If Cyrname turns up on his A-game, as he was in the Charlie Hall, then it will be very interesting race and Clan might have to put in a personal best.

“Cyrname has had a great prep, come out of that race [Charlie Hall] well and looks fantastic – I am very, very happy. We are in a completely different place to where we were last year,” Nicholls told Sky Sports.

“It will be a lot closer and different to last year, that’s for sure. I think it will be a very interesting race and it will be one hell of a job to split them.”

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