Clan Des Obeaux: Can He Win The Cheltenham Gold Cup?

Clan Des Obeaux: Can He Win The Cheltenham Gold Cup?

Despite winning the King George VI Chase at Kempton over Christmas, and following that up with a simple success in the rearranged Denman Chase at Ascot on Saturday, many are still undecided as to whether Paul Nicholls' Clan Des Obeaux can win the Gold Cup.

That victory in Berkshire consolidated his claims for the big one at Cheltenham next month, and he could be Britain's best hope to challenge the likes of Ireland's best - Presenting Percy, Kemboy and Bellshill to name a few.

However, Clan Des Obeaux does not really spell Gold Cup winner in many people's eyes, despite the back he has already beaten top-quality fields this term.

One thing for sure is that he has improved and progressed leaps and bounds from his novice and graduation season.

Winning on National Hunt debut for the yard back in December 2015, this son of Kapgarde only went onto race over hurdle two more times, including when sixth in a classy field in the 2016 Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

This year's Champion Hurdle hopeful Apples Jade finished second in that very contest, with Footpad, Let's Dance and Frodon also other familiar names to take out of it.

Moving onto fences, he always looked a chaser in the making. He recorded his first victory in his second start over the larger obstacles at Newbury, but seemed to take his time before managing any real consistency - particularly being unable to turn over small runner fields given the ability he had.

Last season he finished second in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup behind Guitar Pete, but the two were left in front after David Pipe's Starchitect sadly pulled up when in command of the race.

At that point, the words 'Gold Cup' would have never come to mind for connections of the horse.

However, something suddenly turned, and the horse managed to finish the season by having a real go in top banded company, where he finished third to Might Bite in the Grade One Betway Bowl Chase at Aintree; repaying his owner and trainer's faith in him.

Learning on the job, he looks to have improved with every effort on the track, to now become a serious player and threat in the three-mile division.

With the target of the Jumps' Triple Crown in mind, the now 7yo began the current season by finishing fourth of five in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November, before that career best effort in the Christmas Feature in Sunbury.

He beat a good field on Boxing Day, including two previous winners of the race, along with two Gold Cup victors, but yet many remain unconvinced.

Let's look at the reasons for - he is young, he has class assured, and definitely looks one of for the future, let-alone now.

He has grown physically and mentally in the last couple of years to really establish himself as one of the best around in the division.

His victory on Saturday proved his ever-increasing maturity, that when he comes alongside what looks a beaten rival - in this instance Terrefort, he is able to respond to his jockeys asking's without calling for maximum effort, and to get past them without messing around.

In other words, he has the ability to get the job done without any troubles.

He looked a completely different horse after his Christmas victory, but sadly like any year - regardless if you win, it is hard to gauge how strong the form is from a King George until the season is practically finished, and all the results are out there for everyone o see.

This year's renewal saw Colin Tizzard's Thistlecrack finish second; a horse very much with his best day's behind him and nearing retirement - with perhaps his first contested Gold Cup actually being his last racecourse outing.

Native River who stayed on valiantly in third was always completely unfavoured by the conditions of the track and course.

Of the rest, Double Shuffle, Tea For Two and Politologue just simply are not good enough at this level, whilst Might Bite - clearly completely out of sorts this season, has since undergone an operation to correct his struggles.

Of course we also have the added fact that Bristol De Mai and Waiting Patiently's King George adventure was brought to an end of the first lap, after the two were sent crashing out.

With the Gold Cup in mind, Clan Des Obeaux - worthy of his victory it must be said, will simply be up against better horses.

Some of which he has come across before, for example Native River, who will be far more suited to the higher contours featuring the big hill which he has stayed up superbly well for the last couple of years.

Similarly, he will be favoured by the track direction going left handed this time - where his record speaks volumes, and the fact the Gold Cup comes on the final day of the Festival, where the ground may be all churned up and on the softer side, resulting in it to be unlikely as good as it was over Christmas.

Of course at Cheltenham, the Irish guns come over to play, and a whole host of them could play out the finish themselves this season.

Many people's favourite and fancy for the race is Pat Kelly's Presenting Percy, after his emphatic display twelve months ago over the course and slightly shorter distance in the RSA Novices Chase.

Winner of the Savills Chase - Kemboy, and the Irish Gold Cup equivalent - Bellshill, who also led home another fancy Road To Respect, all look to have had ideal preparation runs, and if we go by what we have seen in recent seasons, the quality in the horses is much richer in depth over the Irish Sea.

This is a whole different bowl of fish for Clan Des Obeaux, and although noone is doubting his ability to race and to stay, he may just be outclassed by potentially better rivals, and there is no shame in that.

Still, he leads the fight for the British challengers, and with a clear passage in the Gold Cup, has got to be in with a chance of providing Paul Nicholls with his first Gold Cup winner since the great Kauto Star.

As we have already said - form aside, he is a King George winner.. he is a Denman Chase winner: you certainly have got to have some prowess and capability about you to win a race of that nature, surely?

Any horse, that can emulate what Kauto or Denman did, would certainly become an all-time great.

Clan Des Obeaux without doubt has every chance.