Clan Des Obeaux powered clear to retain his crown in the 3m Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and is now a top priced 8/1 with William Hill with for the Gold Cup at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

A small but select field of five went to post and Clan Des Obeaux‘s stable companion Cyrname was sent off a heavily-backed 5/4 favourite on the back of inflicting a first career defeat over jumps on Altior at Ascot. Nicholls’ stable jockey chose to partner him, with Sam Twiston-Davies stepping in for the ride on 11/2 shot Clan Des Obeaux.

After initially taking a lead from Aso, Cyrname adopted his customary position at the head of affairs with over a circuit to go. but was never travelling with his usual enthusiasm. He was still in front rounding the home turn, but Clan Des Obeaux was travelling all over him and it was just a question of when Twitson-Davies pushed the button.

When he did, the seven-year-old surged clear after jumping two from home and flew the last to win easily by 21 lengths. Cyrname clung on gamely for second, with the Willie Mullins trained Footpad staying on to claim third.

Nicholls, who was winning the feature race for an 11th time, said:

“It’s nice to have a one-two and it’s nice for Sam to ride a Grade One winner.

“The answer is to have him nice and fresh. He had a fantastic preparation and I knew he’d improve from Down Royal. He wasn’t going to be at his best there and today was the day.”

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Nicholls eyeing another crack at Gold

Clan Des Obeaux could finish only fifth in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, but Nicholls feels he could better that effort come March now that he has strengthened up.

He said:

“I’ve always said he’s a better horse this year, as he’s a year older and stronger. If he keeps going forward it could put him in the Gold Cup picture.

“The key is to be really fresh – it wouldn’t be the worst decision to go straight to Cheltenham with him.”

For all that the Ditcheat handler might be right, for me Clan Des Obeaux clearly failed to stay the 3m 2f trip of the Gold Cup and I can’t see it being any different come March.

The Grade 1 Ryanair Chase over an extended 2m 4f looks tailor-made for him and, if he were mine, that is where he would be heading. William Hill go 7/1 about Clan Des Obeaux for that contest.

Delta Work storms back into Gold Cup reckoning

Delta Work bounced back to form when coming with a power-packed laet run to deny Monalee in the Grade 1 Savills Chase over 3m at Leopardstown and was immediately cut into 10/1 (from 25s) with Paddy Power for the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Monalee jumped like a stag in front for Rachael Blackmore and appeared to have the race in the bag heading to the final fence. However, Blackmore lost an iron after jumping the last and was then forced to kick the other one free to keep her mount balanced. It was then that Delta Work, who had seemingly been going nowhere and looked booked for a place at best, flew home under Jack Kennedy to get up close home and prevail by a head.

It was a huge step up on his below par effort on seasonal reappearance when a well-beaten fourth of five to Road To Respect in the Champion Chase at Down Royal, and Delta Work – who won the Pertemps Final at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival and finished a fine third in this year’s RSA Chase – and I think he is a live Gold Cup contender who will relish the 3m 2f of chasing’s blue riband contest.

A delighted Elliott said:

“He’s won a couple of Grade Ones already and now to win one like this is something else. We thought he was a Gold Cup horse and obviously our bubble got burst in Down Royal, but we’re not gone yet.

“You’ve got to have faith in your horses. I’m very lucky that I’ve got a lot of good horses, brilliant staff and great owners. It’s a big team effort.”

Winning owner Michael O’Leary added: “Delta Work has always been a very good horse. He just ran badly in Down Royal last time out.

“Today he jumped beautifully and Jack gave him a great ride. He’s full of confidence and Gordon is a great trainer.”

At the current double figure odds on offer, I think Delta Work looks each-way value in what is shaping up to be a wide open renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

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