Down Royal target for Clan Des Obeaux before Kempton repeat

Nicholls has November return on the agenda

  • Sunday 01 September
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Clan Des Obeaux could reappear at Down Royal in November before seeking back-to-back wins in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Paul Nicholls has identified the JNwine.com Champion Chase as his preferred first port of the call for the seven-year-old, who is part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and enjoyed his biggest success to date when beating Thistlecrack in the Christmas showpiece at the Sunbury track.

He went on to be fifth in the Cheltenham Cup, before ending his season with second behind Kemboy at Aintree.

Nicholls told Sky Sports Racing: “He’s a talented horse, he improved enormously from the Betfair Chase to win at Kempton and win well.

“He won the Denman Chase and then arguably didn’t quite get the trip in the Gold Cup. He was bang there at the last and just didn’t really truly stay that day.

“He’s a year older and probably if we ran him in the Gold Cup we’d ride him slightly with more restraint, but the King George is his number one target.

“He’s seven, so he’s bound to keep improving. To be a true Gold Cup horse he needs to find a bit more stamina, but there’s really good races to win with him.

“The King George will be the number one target, he loves going right-handed and we’ll probably start him off at Down Royal and then after Christmas make a plan.

“Ultimately I’ve always felt the Punchestown Gold Cup would suit him very well late season, but if we did go for something like that it might mean forgoing Cheltenham or Aintree, so we’ll have to make a plan.”

The Ditcheat trainer added: “He’s going ever so well at the moment, if we don’t go to Down Royal it would be a bit of a headache, he might have to go back for the Betfair Chase, but I’m thinking in my mind Frodon might be going there, so we’d love to go to Down Royal as a prep for the King George.

“I think there’s plenty more to come from him yet.”

The Gold Cup is the big aim for RSA Chase hero Topofthegame, with a crack at the Ladbrokes Trophy the target in the first half of the campaign.

Nicholls said: “He’s a big horse and has done very well through the summer.

“He’s in good shape for where he wants to be, I haven’t made a definite plan for where he’s going to run, but he is a novice until November 1, so we could find a novice chase somewhere as a prep for the Ladbrokes Trophy.

“The Gold Cup is the ultimate aim and we’ll work back from that. He probably won’t run mid-January through to Cheltenham as I think he is a little bit better fresh, so we’ll have two, maximum three, runs before then.

“I wouldn’t want to run them all in the King George, there’s Clan Des Obeaux and Frodon and all those others, but all of them will be entered in all the races and you could perhaps look at Leopardstown (Savills Chase) with him – three miles round there would be as a good a track as you could want for him.”

Down Royal target for Clan Des Obeaux before Kempton repeat
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