Clan des Obeaux defends King George VI crown
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Clan Des Obeaux won the King George VI Chase on Thursday for the second year in a row to give trainer Paul Nicholls a record 11th success in the race as he saddled the first two home on Thursday.
The three-mile (4.8 kilometre) steeplechase at Kempton Park, southwest of London, has long been a Boxing Day mainstay of the English jumps season, but this year's renewal featured just five runners.
Cyrname, also trained by Nicholls, was sent off as the 5/4 favourite after becoming the first horse to beat the mighty Altior over jumps last month.
But after racing prominently he tired after the last, leaving the stage clear for Clan des Obeaux.
Part-owned by legendary former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson he put in a superb jump before surging clear under Sam Twiston-Davies to win by 21 lengths.
Lostintranslation, the other market leader, faltered at several fences and was pulled up before the third last.
Victory was a triumph for Twiston-Davies, who went freelance last year having been reigning champion trainer Nicholls' stable jockey.
He only got the ride on 11/2 chance Clan des Obeaux in this year's King George after Nicholls' current stable jockey, Harry Cobden, opted to be aboard Cyrname.
"When me and Paul kind of left each other I didn't think I'd ride a Grade One winner and in the last year I've ridden two," said Twiston-Davies.
"It (the race) didn't go how I imagined it would but at the same time to come home in front, it's beautiful."
Nicholls, who guided Kauto Star to five King George crowns between 2007 and 2011, said: "It's nice to have a one-two and it's nice for Sam to ride a Grade One winner.
"I always said it was a tough call and there wasn't much between them.
"I knew the more it rained today the more it'd suit Clan, he's stronger and better than he was last year. He's only seven so he's entitled to have improved and the key is to have him nice and fresh like he was today."
Now Nicholls has his sights on a 12th Kempton showpiece in 2020.
"We’ve got to for 12 now, haven’t we? There’s no reason why both horses won’t be back next year."
Thursday's winner is now around 6-1 second favourite to follow up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
© 2019 AFP