It’s been a long time since Paul Nicholls was able to celebrate a Cheltenham Gold Cup success, and the Somerset-based trainer will be hoping that Clan Des Obeaux can help end his decade-long wait for top honours in this blue riband event. The Grade 1 event is shaping up to be yet another suitably competitive affair and Nicholls’ charge is likely to be extremely popular in the ante-post betting market.
Nicholls has been privileged to train some of National Hunt’s biggest stars throughout his illustrious career and Kauto Star was one of his best-loved chasers. He retired in 2013 and was subsequently moved into dressage, but he will always be remembered for his success at Prestbury Park. The French-bred gelding was victorious in the Gold Cup in 2009 when beating Denman and Exotic Dancer to claim his second triumph in the valuable contest.
The trainer has had a number of runners in the race over the last ten years but none of his competitors has been able to follow in the footsteps of the imperious Kauto Star. Saphir Du Rheu was unable to complete the race in 2018, whilst the much-fancied Silviniaco Conti finished down the field three years earlier.
Very few trainers have been able to win multiple Cheltenham Gold Cups, with Nicky Henderson the latest handler to double up on the final day of the festival. The Seven Barrows-trainer is likely to have a strong hand once again, but Paul Nicholls is also likely to feel quietly confident about his chances in this year’s renewal. The leading trainer has recently spoken to Betfair about his best festival prospects. His weekly videos can be found alongside the latest Cheltenham predictions on their site.
Clan Des Obeaux won’t be Paul Nicholls’ only representative in the race, with Frodon also set to take to the turf on March 15th. The pair are prominent in the ante-post betting markets alongside the irrepressible Presenting Percy, who has not finished out of the top two since November 2017.
Nicholls’ charge was victorious on Boxing Day at Kempton in the King George when seeing off a late rally from Thistlecrack. His price shortened significantly as a result. He also came third in last season’s Aintree Bowl and has previously raced twice at Cheltenham, although he will be making his festival debut this time around.
The seven-year-old is likely to have a preparation race at Newbury ahead of his appearance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup following a similar path to both Kauto Star and Denman. Nicholls admitted that he wouldn’t want his stable star to go straight to the festival without a warm-up appearance.
The 56-year old is also hoping to secure an 11th trainers title this season and he will be hoping that Clan Des Obeaux can lead the charge for his yard. The aforementioned Nicky Henderson is his nearest challenger and the Cheltenham Festival is likely to prove decisive in helping decide the destination of this much-coveted title.
Paul Nicholls is hoping to end his barren run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup this year and Clan Des Obeaux is his best hope of success in the race. Kauto Star delighted jumps fans for a number of years and the seven-year-old chaser will be hoping to replicate his achievements this March.