Paul Nicholls has already ruled out a third crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Clan Des Obeaux – and will instead concentrate on a King George VI hat-trick bid.
Nicholls’ brilliant chaser, part-owned by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, has failed to run anywhere near his best in two successive editions of the Cheltenham showpiece – finishing well adrift of impressive winner Al Boum Photo both times.
It is a very different story, however, at Kempton – where Clan Des Obeaux joined the illustrious list of Ditcheat’s multiple winners of the Boxing Day highlight when he trounced stablemate Cyrname this season.
After the eight-year-old had once again failed to handle the contours and extra stamina test of Cheltenham on Friday, Nicholls said: “We are not going to go to the Gold Cup next year – we will stick to going right handed.
“We won’t even consider him as a Gold Cup horse next year. We can do better if we place him right.
“He obviously doesn’t like it around Cheltenham.
“Next season it will be Down Royal (for the Champion Chase in November), the King George, then Punchestown – and he might have something else in between Kempton and Punchestown.”
Just two of Clan Des Obeaux’s six chase victories have come at left-handed courses, and Nicholls will map out his future programme accordingly – with a trip to the Punchestown Festival a possibility not just next year, but to end the current campaign too.
“We will go to Punchestown with him at the end of the season, if he is all right,” added the 11-time champion trainer.
“I think Punchestown will suit him, and that will give him plenty of time from this.
“He loves Kempton, so (next season) we will concentrate on the King George.
“We will definitely stick to going right handed.”
Nicholls had hoped Clan Des Obeaux could yet prove himself in the Gold Cup – but after his latest disappointment there, he has accepted that is unlikely to ever be the case.
He said: “We rode him a bit dropped in around the inner, and he didn’t like it and he was never happy – he obviously doesn’t get a three and a quarter.
“(Jockey) Harry (Cobden) has said he might want a pair of cheek-pieces on.”