Clan Takes King George for Nicholls as Favourites Disappoint

Clan Des Obeaux may not have been many people’s idea of the most likely winner of the King George going into the race, but there is no doubt that this improving youngster is going places, and he won the race on merit. It is fair to say that some of the big guns disappointed, but this horse won well, beating Thistlecrack who has already ran well this season and in turn, Clan Des Obeaux turned the tables on three horses who finished ahead of him in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month.

The only disappointment from the race came when Bristol De Mai fell, and brought down Waiting Patiently in the process. That was incredibly tough on the Jefferson team, who had been waiting to run their horse in this race for a very long time, but he was only able to last a circuit. We have no idea how Waiting Patiently would have ran in the race, he was jumping nicely and in a good rhythm at the back of the field, and they now have a big decision to make about where and when he races next.

Thistlecrack in second place ran a great race, and probably ran to somewhere near his very best. He jumped far better than he did at Haydock, and that allowed him to tank into the race and take it up as Coneygree began to fade. It was a thrilling sight to see him move into the lead like that, and maybe he can challenge for the Gold Cup after all if he repeats that performance. If I owned him I would still be looking at the wide open and poor looking staying hurdle division though, thinking I could win the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham before retiring him at the top.

Native River has shown yet again that he needs a far stronger test than this to be seen at his best, and everything will be centred around him defending his Gold Cup crown in March. He ran on well to claim third, but the Gold Cup trip is the minimum he needs now by the looks of things.

Reports after the race have told us that Might Bite bled from the nose after the race, and he will now go for checks on that. Regardless of what that finds, he is clearly not the same horse as last season, and it looks as though losing the Gold Cup left a huge mark on him. We may never see him back to his best again, reminding us what a tough test the Gold Cup really is, and how we should appreciate these horses while they are at the top of their game.

It was Clan Des Obeaux that took the honours though, and he will now be aimed at the Gold Cup, with one run in between to keep him fit and fresh. Paul Nicholls spoke highly of this horse before his run in the Betfair Chase, saying that he had improved a lot from last season and could compete with the best horses in the staying division.

He may have only finished fourth in the Betfair Chase, but that was a good run and his King George victory shows that Nicholls was right all along. Whether he can get up the hill over another couple of furlongs at Cheltenham remains to be seen, but this youngster is certainly going places and ready to compete in all of the big races.

We could have seen the emergence of a new staying star at Kempton yesterday afternoon, all eyes on the Gold Cup in March.