In days reminiscent of the golden era of Denman and Kauto Star, Champion trainer Paul Nicholls yet again saddles two dynamic chasing superstars for Boxing Day’s huge Grade One feature, The Ladbrokes King George VI Chase raced over the distance of 3 miles at Kempton.
This is clearly turning into a vintage season for top class rivalries as Paisley Park and Thyme Hill also continue their exchange of handbag swipes at Newbury, Ascot and ultimately Cheltenham in March.
However, unlike the aforementioned dual in the stayer’s hurdle division, these two Paul Nicholls juggernauts are highly unlikely to meet at The Cheltenham Festival next year as Clan Des Obeaux’s disdain for the undulating track has been well documented, resulting in his Ditcheat based handler ruling out any return to the Prestbury Park track again.
Therefore, this second leg of jump racing’s triple crown has to be savoured as it is difficult to see where these two rivals could meet again.
But it’s not just about these two as Gold Cup hopeful Santini has a livewire chance whilst Frodon has also earned the right to take his place.
We’ll assess the chances of the leading fancies and point you in the right direction for the best ante post prices from our partner firms.
CLAN DES OBEAUX
Clan Des Obeaux is fussy about where he likes to hit the net. Although he clearly never settles over the Cheltenham Gold Cup trip and distance, he is on a different planet when it comes to the tight 3 miles at Kempton on Boxing Day.
He travels beautifully, always jumps well and has the finishing speed of any previous King George winner you care to mention. Talk of his invincibility at Kempton is not exaggerated and his love affair with the SW London track exemplifies the horses for courses theory.
It will take something special to wrestle a third King George title from Clan’s vice like grip over this course and distance. His second to Bristol De Mai at Haydock in The Betfair Chase was a very encouraging first run of the season and will have set him up nicely for this run.
However, this King George run will be his toughest task yet as his main rival, Cyrname, is clearly not the same horse as last year.
15/8 best with Unibet, Betfred and Boylesports.
Last season took its toll on Cyrname. The legendary dual with Altior ended up being a slight setback for the Ascot specialist and his subsequent runs were well below par.
Paul Nicholls consequently changed tactics by hanging up Cyrname's hooves for the season and letting the horse refresh over the summer. It proved to be a dynamic move as the 8-year-old surprised many with his emphatic win in The Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby back in October.
Supposedly running the wrong direction on an unfavourable trip, he ran his rivals ragged and had plenty left in the tank for the run in. Paul Nicholls has claimed that the horse has matured and is a different proposition from last season.
If you mix that information into the cauldron with the fact that he delivered one of the greatest victories in recent years in that Ascot race back in 2019, then Clan Des Obeaux has much to fear.
If Cyrname is allowed to bowl along in front and he demonstrates that finishing speed we know he is capable of, then this can easily go to Cyrname. It is a bit of a gamble considering Clan has been so awesome in this race, but worth taking this time.
Our selection Cyrname is 2/1 best with Betfred.
The Gold Cup runner-up was a slightly surprising last-minute entry and will need to finish at least 5th to recoup the hefty £5000 fee!
The Nicky Henderson horse should come on for his second to Lake View Lad in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree.
However, I think the sights are firmly set on more stamina sapping targets and I’m not sure if he’s speedy enough to cope with Cyrname and Clan Des Obeaux over this course and trip.
Chances if it becomes more of an attritional test of stamina.
7/1 best with Betfred.
Didn’t enjoy himself in this race last year and similar to Santini would probably prefer a stiffer test of stamina. Put in a below par performance in The Betfair Chase and the Tizzard stable is having a very mixed season thus far. Best watched on this occasion.
8/1 best with bet365, Unibet, Betfred.
The lone Irish raider has to be respected on his 4th to Al Boum Photo in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup and will come on for latest run after being beaten 9 lengths by Presenting Percy. Still a lot to do here but represents some each way value at 10/1 (bet365, Bet Victor, Betfred)
The hype will certainly centre around the two Nicholls entries, although a Ditcheat 1-2-3 is not out of the question with Frodon (33/1 bet365) and Reel Steel (16/1 William Hill, Betfair) also in the line-up. However, I feel Cyrname is a much-improved horse this season and if he puts in his best, the others will have a job to rein him in.
Current Horse Racing Betting Offers
26th December 3pm Kempton King George VI Chase
Enhanced Price - Cyrname to Win at 50/1
Enhanced Price - Epatante to Win at 25/1
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£5 Free Exchange Bet on the 3pm Kempton King George VI Chase
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Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (8pm 21st December 2020) and are subject to change.