Clan Des Obeaux could still have Cheltenham prep if Denman Chase is saved

Gold Cup trial was set for Newbury this weekend

  • Friday 08 February
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Paul Nicholls has not ruled out the possibility of running King George VI Chase winner Clan Des Obeaux before the Cheltenham Festival, should the Denman Chase get rescheduled.

The Gold Cup trial – which was due to take place at Newbury on Saturday – was one of a number of races abandoned after racing in Britain was suspended until Wednesday by the British Horseracing Authority, following a number of horses at the yard of Donald McCain testing positive for equine flu.

If a contingency plan to restage the three-mile prize was drawn up when the situation becomes clearer, the Ditcheat handler would give it consideration if the timing works in favour of the seven-year-old, who is a general 8-1 chance for the Magners-sponsored Gold Cup.

Nicholls – whose star is part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson – said: “I’ve heard all sorts of things about possibly rescheduling the race, but there is no point speculating what is going to happen.

“Clan was fit and ready to run. Whether we go again or go straight to Cheltenham depends what happens.

“We can’t plan anything until we know what is happening. If the race was rescheduled next week we would definitely look at it as it is still around month away until Cheltenham.

“We know he does go well fresh, though, so we would have to give it all some serious thought and look at what the ground is like.”

Having also held leading chances in the Betfair Hurdle on the same card with Getaway Trump and Mont Des Avaloirs, the 10-time champion trainer expressed his frustration at the loss of such a valuable meeting.

Speaking on Friday afternoon, Nicholls said: “From the point of view of the horses they are all fit and well and we were preparing them for this weekend.

“They did everything they normally would do yesterday and they will do it tomorrow. It was a big weekend racing and we had lots of big chances and a big team fired up.

“It is frustrating when this happens and it is a nightmare, but what can you do. We were all looking forward to this weekend immensely.

“Everyone gets paranoid that everything is about Cheltenham, but that is not the be all and end all. It was a massive weekend at Newbury with massive prize-money.

“They were massive races in their own right and not just prep races for Cheltenham. The only one of ours that was looking for a run before Cheltenham was Clan.

“It is just a shame big races have been lost and hopefully some might get saved.

“Next weekend is another big one at Ascot, Haydock and Wincanton, then there is Kempton the week after.

“Every weekend is a big one now until Cheltenham, but we will just have to play things by ear and hopefully it will get sorted soon.”

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