Paul Nicholls claims it was an easy decision sorting out riding arrangements for the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton.
The Ditcheat handler, who is chasing a a 10th victory in the Boxing Day showpiece, confirmed at the launch of the 32Red Festival in Lambourn on Tuesday that Sam Twiston-Davies would keep the ride on Politologue, with Harry Cobden set to partner stablemate Clan Des Obeaux.
Although Twiston-Davies is no longer the number one jockey to Nicholls after deciding to go freelance in the spring – with Cobden now in that privileged position – the trainer sees no reason to split up the respective partnerships.
Nicholls said: “It was an easy decision and I think it basically made it itself. Harry was very happy riding Clan Des Obeaux and Sam was happy riding Politologue.
“Sam has a good relationship with Politologue, although Harry won the Tingle Creek on him. At the end of the day they are good jockeys riding good horses and it is about having harmony in the camp.”
Cobden’s mount Clan Des Obeaux made an encouraging start to his season when fourth in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.
Nicholls added: “I know Harry is very happy riding Clan Des Obeaux – in effect he has got the form in the book.
“Harry knows Sam has ridden Politologue before, so we all just worked it out together and we’re happy. It’s a team thing – it’s not about one person.”
Politologue is a general 6-1 shot for the King George, with Clan Des Obeaux much bigger odds at 25-1.
Politologue will be tackling the three-mile distance for the first time, but Nicholls is unconcerned.
He said: “He has never run over three miles, but he has won over two-mile-five twice at Ascot.
“He likes going right-handed, he’s good on flat tracks and his form is red-hot now the horse he beat at Ascot (Charbel) won well in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on Sunday.
“He is bred to stay. The other day at Ascot he travelled supremely well and I don’t see the trip being a problem.”
The trainer admits Clan Des Obeaux will need to improve to play a prominent role, but feels Kempton will suit him better than Haydock.
He added: “I was thrilled with Clan Des Obeaux at Haydock as at the weights he had no chance.
“He will be slightly better going right-handed as he just jumps out to his right a fraction. He has run well at Kempton before.
“I just thought the way he ran the other day he can only improve – he has to, but not massively. It is exciting to have two nice horses to run in the race.”
Nigel Twiston-Davies reports Bristol De Mai to be “in the form of his life” ahead of his bid for King George glory.
The flying grey had Clan Des Obeaux and Cheltenham Gold Cup one-two Native River and Might Bite in behind when landing his second Betfair Chase on Merseyside last month.
He failed to fire at Kempton last year, but Twiston-Davies hopes it will be a different story 12 months on.
He said: “He is 100 per cent and there are no concerns at all. He proved at Haydock that he is not ground dependent.
“It was fast-ish ground at Wetherby, so he bypassed the Charlie Hall this year and went straight to Haydock – hopefully that will play into our hands this season.
“He seems to be in the form of his life.”
Bristol De Mai’s Betfair Chase victory means he is once again in line for the Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown, which offers a £1million bonus to any horse who can win at Haydock, the King George and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season.
If he achieves that, Bristol De Mai’s connections would also claim the Kauto Star Trophy, named in honour of the last horse to achieve the feat back in 2006-7.
Twiston-Davies added: “At the beginning of the season you want to win big races and it would be a huge bonus if we do pick up the three, but it has been proved it is very difficult to do.
“He made a very bad mistake going away from the stands in the King George last year and that knocked him out of the race really.
“He was beaten just over 20 lengths, so hopefully he will be 20 lengths better this year.”