King George VI Chase Ante-Post Preview: Cyrname to romp to Kempton win

Cyrname was a hugely impressive winner of the Charlie Hall Chase last time out.
Cyrname was a hugely impressive winner of the Charlie Hall Chase last time out.

As we head into December, Steve Chambers takes an early look at the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton Park, and picks out his best bets at this stage...

Paul Nicholls has a magnificent record in the King George VI Chase, having won the Boxing Day showpiece at Kempton Park no less than eleven times, and the Ditcheat master will unleash a strong battalion at the festive cracker on December 26, as he saddles the well-fancied duo of Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname.

A scarcely believable nine wins in the last 14 renewals of the three-mile Grade 1 emphasises Nicholls' dominance in the race, and with dual winner Clan Des Obeaux bidding to match the heroics of former Ditcheat inmate Kauto Star, who was the last horse to win three King Georges on the bounce, then Nicholls' hand is spearheaded by a strong contender. However, fresh from a facile win in the Charlie Hall Chase earlier in the season, Cyrname is now looking to become a force in the staying division, and he is currently fighting it out for favouritism, with the bookmakers pricing the pair up currently at 5/2 apiece.

The pair did battle in the race 12 months ago, with Clan Des Obeaux obliterating his stablemate by 21 lengths, and the eight-year-old will be looking to replicate that fine display. He ran a mighty race on his comeback outing when he chased home Bristol De Mai in testing conditions in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park last month, but that energy-sapping contest is sure to take some time to get over, and Nicholls will have to work his magic to get him firing on all cylinders come the end of the month.

However, Nicholls has already expressed his happiness at Clan Des Obeaux's first run of the year, and expects his dual winner to be in A1 condition for a crack at the hat-trick. But, in Cyrname he faces an enigmatic talent, who on his day can prove to be a cut above his peers, and could he be destined for a dominant campaign at the highest level.

One of the highest rated chasers in recent times, Cyrname had become a winning machine at Ascot, where he defeated the mighty Altior in the 1965 Chase last season, but defeat in last year's King George left a cloud hanging over his ability to perform away from Ascot, and also over three miles. Having been beaten in the 2019 King George, Cyrname was then a faller in the 2020 Ascot Chase in February, and Nicholls pulled stumps on his campaign.

Looking to see his eight-year-old bounce back to top form this season, Cyrname produced a majestic performance of jumping in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in October, as he eased to a two-length victory over Vinndication in the Grade 2 contest. With jockey Harry Codben motionless for most of the three miles, Cyrname galloped his rivals into submission to show that he can be a force away from Berkshire, while his victory over three miles launched him into the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture, a race he is now 16/1 for with most bookmakers.

Today's Racing Tips

Returning to Kempton for a second crack at the King George and another clash with Clan Des Obeaux, Cyrname has to be the one to beat, if repeating that Wetherby display, and a win on Boxing Day will see his Gold Cup price plummet into single figures. Beating Vinndication and Aye RIght, who finished second in the Ladbrokes Trophy last weekend, may not be the strongest form when weighing up a potential Grade 1 superstar, but Cyrname's flare at right-handed tracks catapult him into a different stratosphere, when he is on song, and if he can turn up at his best, then he can outclass his stablemate.  

While Cyrname's potential Cheltenham Gold Cup credentials can be questioned, as he may struggle with the extra distance at an undulating left-handed track, but he's tailor-made for a tilt at the King George over a flat three miles at Kempton Park, and he can duly hand Nicholls another success in the Christmas cracker.

A disappointingly meagre field of five runners contested last season's King George, and the 2020 running could have a similar look to it, with very few horses being pencilled in for a crack at the festive feature. Veering away from the Ditcheat duo, who dominate the market, the bookmakers are going 8/1 the rest of the field, and sitting on that mark is the Colin Tizzard-trained Lostintranslation.

Pulled up when well fancied in last year's King George, Lostintranslation bounced back to form with a fine third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, but he faltered in the recent Betfair Chase last month, as he was over 40 lengths behind Bristol De Mai and Clan Des Obeaux. Tizzard still has the King George in his sights for his stable star, but will be hoping for some better ground at Kempton, so his charge can show his best. However, having flopped in the Betfair Chase, the classy chaser can't be trusted to bounce back to form, and he can be ignored from an ante-post perspective.

For most of the other entries, it's a guessing game as to whether they will take their chance in the field as Nicky Henderson has pointed RSA Chase hero Champ towards the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, while Kemboy could be another that remains in Ireland for his festive test, despite potentially holding a chance if lining up.

One exciting horse that is set to make the trip from the Emerald Isle is the Henry De Bromhead-trained Monalee, who was last seen finishing third to Presenting Percy in a classy Thurles event. Prior to that at the end of last season he too ran a scorcher in the Gold Cup, finishing fourth behind Al Boum Photo. A model of consistency in top level races, Monalee may not have a sparkling winning record over fences (three wins from 14 chase runs), but he's only been out of the first four in three of those 14 outings (fell twice), so he could be the solid each-way contender against the two fancied Nicholls runners. He will certainly strip fitter for that Thurles run, and has some class about him, but whether he can get his head in front that's another question, and he will need to Ditcheat pair to underperform to collect the trophy.

Real Steel could be another shot fired by the Nicholls gun, but he was well beaten by Imperial Aura in the 1965 Chase at Ascot, but a step up in trip should suit, while Allaho and Waiting Patiently add a little more depth to the contest, but the former could be another to line up in the Savills Chase, so can't be backed at this stage.

A fascinating conundrum to decipher in the coming weeks, but it looks a potential match on paper between the two Nicholls-trained heavyweights, and it's Cyrname that can provide the knockout blow and enhance his already lofty reputation.

Selections

King George VI Chase, Kempton Park, Saturday 26th December - back Cyrname at 5/2

King George VI Chase, Kempton Park, Saturday 26th December - back Monalee (each way) at 12/1

King George VI Chase
Cyrname silk

Cyrname

King George VI Chase
Monalee silk

Monalee (EW)

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