Can Clan des Obeaux do it?
We look at this year’s likely contenders and their credentials.
After a dominant start to 2019 which included a dominant 17L win in the Betfair Ascot Chase, Cyrname was a 21L runner up to Clan des Obeaux in the King George last year. Cyrname suffered a heavy fall at Ascot in the same race he won so convincingly the previous year. This kept this 176-rated horse out of action for the remainder of the season and ruled Cyrname out of Cheltenham action.
Questions would be asked around Cyrname and whether he could get back to his best after his fall, but the Paul Nicholls trained horse showed little signs of a decline, with a promising 2L win on his season debut at Wetherby.
Cyrname is likely to be the biggest threat to Clan des Obeaux and the antepost horse racing odds cannot split the two of them.
Monalee was rated 173 ahead of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019, a race in which despite finishing 4th, was only 1 ¼ furlongs off the eventual winner Al Boum Photo. Monalee clearly has bags of talent but you have to go back to February 2019 since the last time he won a race. He is yet to run in a King George or try out the Kempton course and this 3m test could be just what Monalee needs to get back into the winner’s enclosure.
The Willie Mullins trained Kemboy was dominant throughout the winter of 2018 to spring 2019 beating the likes of Al Boum Photo, Clan des Obeaux and Monalee.
Kemboy failed to win in the 2019/20 National Hunt season, he made his return to the track in November this year finishing 6L behind Presenting Percy, he did manage to see off potential King George VI 2020 rival Monalee but he will be hoping for a better season this time around.
LostInTranslation made his King George VI debut in 2019 and went off as the 15/8 second favourite behind Cyrname. LostInTranslation had some of the best form going into the 2019 race, having won his previous three races beforehand, including the Betfair Chase at Haydock. He was unfortunately unable to complete the race and was pulled up, with Colin Tizzard citing he had breathing problems.
LostInTranslation made his season debut finishing 47L behind the winner Bristol De Mai but the ground was heavy and this was ultimately too testing for him. With a sounder surface at Kempton on Boxing Day LostInTranslation could be a real force in the race.
Another Paul Nicholls horse who has been entered into this year’s race is Frodon, who continues to defy the odds. Frodon hit new heights by winning the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2019. Despite being unable to repeat Cheltenham Festival success in 2020, Frodon did arguably produce his best effort on a racecourse yet winning a Class 2 at the Cheltenham November Meeting, when you consider he was top weight and it was his first run of the season.
Frodon loves the underdog label and continues to overcome testing challenges. Frodon is yet to run in the King George but has some good form over the long trip and he also has previous course form winning the Silviniaco Conti Chase over the shorter 2m4 ½ trip.
Clan des Obeaux
Clan des Obeaux could join an exclusive group of legends including the likes of Kauto Star and Desert Orchid in winning three King George VI races. He beat Cyrname by 21 lengths last year and will confident of a strong showing again. Clan des Obeaux chased home Bristol De Mai on his seasonal debut in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November and more is sure to come for this horse. He did suffer a slight injury on the back of that race but he is still on course to defend his crown.
Clan des Obeaux is a C&D specialist and he is certainly going to be the one to beat come Boxing Day.
Other Notable King George VI Challengers
Willie Mullins has also entered Allaho and Melon into the race. Allaho finished 3rd behind Champ in the 2019 RSA Chase, while Melon has been runner up at four consecutive Cheltenham Festivals.
Gordon Elliot has just the one entry in the King George with Down Royal Champion Chase winner, The StoryTeller.
Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir d’Oudairies will be the trainers first runner in the race should he be a confirmed runner.
While Harry Whittington has entered the Kate and Andrews Brooks owned Saint Calvados and Simply The Betts.