Paul Nicholls hopes Clan Des Obeaux can end his 10-year drought in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup by giving him a record-equalling fifth victory in the race.
Nicholls is keeping his fingers crossed that this season’s King George VI Chase hero will provide him with his first victory in the coveted Grade One since Kauto Star claimed the second of his two triumphs in 2009.
Although Clan Des Obeaux – no bigger than 9-2 for the Gold Cup – is yet to win in four previous starts at Cheltenham, the 10-time champion trainer believes there are valid excuses for each of those defeats.
The Ditcheat trainer said: “Everyone keeps saying he hasn’t won at Cheltenham in four starts. The first time he ran there as a juvenile, he was only just beaten in a Listed race.
“He should have never run in the Triumph Hurdle – at the time he was part-owned by Jared Sullivan, and he wanted to run him. If Mr Barber had owned him outright, he wouldn’t have run him in the Triumph Hurdle – because he wasn’t that type of horse.
“He was then second as a just-turned five-year-old to Whisper in the Dipper (Novice Chase) – which was good form – and he then carried 11st 12lb and finished second to a horse carrying 10st 2lb (Guitar Pete).
“Harry (Cobden) got off that day and said he is still learning about the job. Now we are where we want to be.”
After Clan Des Obeaux followed up his Boxing Day success at Kempton with victory in the rearranged Betfair Denman Chase at Ascot earlier this month, Nicholls feels his new stable star is primed for another big performance.
He added: “He is an experienced horse that has matured, and he has done the talking himself in the last few runs.
“We are really excited about running him in the Gold Cup. We don’t know what he will be end up being rated, or where he will end up.
“Kauto won his first Gold Cup at seven, so he is the right age. Fingers crossed, with a bit of luck in running, he will run a big race.”
A late decision will be made whether Frodon will run in the Gold Cup or Ryanair Chase as he bids to back up his success in a Grade Two contest at the track.
Nicholls added: “I’m not worried about the trip in the Gold Cup, because he will gallop and stay all day – but that will be a tougher race than the Ryanair over that trip, and the Ryanair may cut up.
“We don’t want to run him in the Gold Cup for the sake of it, if we could win the Ryanair. He is rated 169 now – which is right up with the best. He will give a good account of himself, whatever he runs in.”