Harry Cobden believes returning to a right-handed track will play to Clan Des Obeaux’s strengths on his seasonal return in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal.
Last year’s King George VI winner will bid to follow in the hoofprints of the mighty Kauto Star and give 11-times champion trainer Paul Nicholls his fifth victory in the three-mile Grade One.
Although Clan Des Obeaux came unstuck in both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Betway Bowl at Aintree last term, Cobden expects him to show his true colours going his preferred way round.
Cobden said: “I think he is much better going right-handed, which Down Royal is, and that is a big plus for him. He does run well left-handed, but he is 5lb better going right-handed.
“He ran well in the Gold Cup (fifth), but I think that took it out of him a bit. They went a fair old gallop and he had a hard race.
“At Aintree he was probably just a bit over the top and he didn’t travel as well as usual, he jumped right a bit, while Kemboy was going there as a fresh horse.
“He seems in very good form and he schooled well last week. He had a nice gallop around Wincanton the other day with me and he felt great. I’m just looking forward to riding him now.”
Assessing the potential opposition, Cobden, who partnered his first century of winners last season, has identified triple Grade One scorer Delta Work, one of eight Gigginstown House Stud-owned entries in the race, as the chief danger.
Cobden said: “It doesn’t look a bad race and Delta Work looks the one to beat. That novice form looks good and he will need to step up again, but he looked impressive when he won at Punchestown.
“Clan Des Obeaux has that form in the book though, and I would not swap him for anything else in the race.
“The vibes at home are good and he is a bigger, stronger horse this season. Scott Marshall, who rides him every day, is very pleased.”
A second shot at the Cheltenham Gold Cup may be on the agenda for Clan Des Obeaux later in the season, but Cobden feels he could be tailor-made for an alternative Grade One contest should connections decide to look elsewhere.
He said: “At the bottom of the hill I thought I was going to win the Gold Cup. I jumped the second last upsides them, but the ground just beat him and better ground suits him.
“Down Royal looks a good place to go, then I imagine he will be freshened up for the King George.
“The race I think he would run well in is the Punchestown Gold Cup as it is a big pot at the end of the season. They go right-handed there and I’d say he wouldn’t be far away in that.”
The former champion conditional will look to claim a big-race double at the Ulster track with Clan Des Obeaux’s stablemate Secret Investor being readied for the Grade Two Skymas Chase.
He added: “He is a lovely horse. He has got some good form and is fit and well. He schooled the other morning and jumped as well as ever.
“He is a Grade Two winner already and although I’m not sure what will be in the race, you will want a good one to beat him.
“I think it was the right decision not to run him on that soft ground at Cheltenham on Saturday and wait for this instead.”