Cheltenham Gold Cup Contenders: Clan Des Obeaux profile

Clan Des Obeaux stormed to King George VI Chase glory at Kempton in fine style.
Clan Des Obeaux stormed to King George VI Chase glory at Kempton in fine style.

Dual King George VI Chase winner Clan Des Obeaux is a leading fancy for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and Jamie Jackson profiles the Paul Nicholls-trained contender here...

Clan Des Obeaux

  • Trainer: Paul Nicholls
  • Age: 8
  • Owner: Mr & Mrs P K Barber, G Mason & Sir A Ferguson
  • Races: 21
  • Wins: 8
  • Notable Races: 2016 Berkshire Novices’ Chase, 2018, 2019 King George VI Chase, 2019 Denman Chase

Career Record

A resounding 21-length victory on his stable debut for Paul Nicholls in a juvenile hurdle in 2015 was followed by a decent second in the G2 Finesse Juvenile Hurdle on Trials Day at Cheltenham. He then contested a strong renewal of the Triumph Hurdle, finishing sixth of 15 runners, 15 lengths behind Apple’s Jade and Footpad.

He was always touted as a chaser, and immediately began his chasing career later that year. As a four-year-old, he won the Grade 2 Berkshire Novices’ Chase on his second start by 10 lengths, putting in a great performance at Newbury. After which he contested the Grade 2 Dipper Novices’ Chase on New Year's Day at Cheltenham, narrowly losing to Whisper, before being firmly put in his place in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase by Top Notch at Sandown Park.

In his first season out of novice company, Clan Des Obeaux put in an unbelievable performance to finish second off top weight in the 2017 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, proving he had bags of ability. Because of this, he was pitched in again to Grade 1 company in the Betway Bowl, looking threatening up until three fences out before looking one-paced compared to Might Bite and Bristol De Mai. Even as a six-year-old, he looked a worthy adversary at the top level.

For his third season chasing, he was given big targets. He began with a fourth place finish in the Betfair Chase (outsider of five) where he was running on well in a muddling finish, he then put in a career best in the King George VI Chase to close out 2018 defeating Thistlecrack and the previous year's Gold Cup winner Native River a further 12 lengths back. A schooling victory around Ascot for the Grade 2 Denman Chase meant he was the best of the British for the Cheltenham showpiece, and this was how he remained, finishing fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup to Al Boum Photo and second to Kemboy in the Betway Bowl.

For his 2019/2020 campaign, Clan Des Obeaux was sent on his travels for the first time across the Irish Sea, to contest the Champion Chase at Down Royal. He ran well but simply found one too good in Road To Respect, but beat the apple of Gordon Elliott’s eye in Delta Work. This conspired to be a great warm up for the King George, where he demolished new kids on the block Cyrname by 21 lengths, and a pulled up Lostintranslation.

Positives

Form: To have won two King George VI Chases in the manner he has, Clan Des Obeaux is entitled to be at the forefront of the Gold Cup picture. He has risen through the ranks, mixing it with the best as a juvenile hurdler when always being touted as a potentially star chaser. Having now reached those lofty aspirations, with still a few years left in him, his 21-length demolition of Cyrname being one of the best pieces of form we've seen this season. 

Hardy: At the age of eight, he has already run 21 times, winning eight of those. He has proven himself as a juvenile, a novice chaser, mixing it in highly competitive handicaps off high marks, contesting Grade 2 and Grade 1 races as a six-year-old and running admirably, before winning two King Georges. 

Adaptability: Due to his career longevity, he has many attributes that stand him in good stead. You can put him anywhere in a race. He goes in any ground. Left-handed or right-handed. Proven to be able to travel and run with credit with his recent exploits at Down Royal. Similarly he has run at 12 different courses in his 21-race career.

Negatives

Cheltenham: Despite all his fantastic exploits, Clan Des Obeaux is yet to land the spoils at the home of Jumps racing. He has run at Cheltenham five times, going off favourite three times and with SPs of 11/8f 12/1 10/11f 3/1f 5/1. Paul Nicholls deliberately swerved the Cheltenham Festival during his novice chasing campaign and then went straight to Aintree for his second season chasing. 

Come Up Short When It Matters: There is no denying how talented a racehorse Clan Des Obeaux is, but you could argue he simply isn’t good enough for the main event. He thrives at Kempton, not so much Cheltenham. The Irish contingent always finds his weaknesses and takes advantage of them – which begs the question. Can he win a Gold Cup?

How will Clan Des Obeaux fare in the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup?

Clan Des Obeaux has looked as good as ever this season. His 21-length victory in the King George reads well, but you could argue he simply stayed the trip the best. As open a renewal that we have on our hands, would likely be his best chance. On his day, on his favourite stomping ground of Kempton, he is in a different class. But, up against the best of the best at Cheltenham is likely to find him out. Admittedly he enters the Festival as one of the leader contenders and a proven yardstick, but what you see is what you get, and you have to prefer others.

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