March 15, 2019 News
THE final day of the Cheltenham Festival brings the highlight of the entire meeting – the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Won by some of the legends of jump racing, this year’s Gold Cup looks one to savour.
Clan Des Obeaux has always been a horse with a big reputation and he has started to fulfil that this season with emphatic wins in the King George VI Chase and Denman Chase.
We spoke to his trainer Paul Nicholls’ assistant, and nephew, Harry Derham to get his views on the yard’s big-race contender, plus we spoke to other key players about their prospects.
Clan Des Obeaux has been a star this season. How excited are you about the Gold Cup?
It’s the race we’re most looking forward too. It’s the biggest race in our sport so to have a runner in it with a live chance it as big as it gets. Clan’s fine and will without doubt be the most laidback person on the team come Gold Cup day. He looks fantastic and Scott who rides him couldn’t be happier. I’m sure he’s in the best condition to run his absolute best race.
Some people have expressed doubts about his capabilities around Cheltenham. Do you have any concerns about him?
The only little doubt I have about him is that very occasionally he jumps to his right. You can’t afford to give any ground away in the Gold Cup so I’d hope he didn’t do that. My cause for confidence as his last two races have been his best and he’s an improving young horse. We’ve not seen the best of him yet and the bare facts of it are he beat the best British horses in the King George with his ears pricked. When you say it out loud like that it shows he’s a very good horse with a very good chance.
Paul Nicholls has won the Gold Cup four times and another success would move him level with the legendary Tom Dreaper, trainer of Arkle. That must give you confidence about the chances of Clan Des Obeaux too?
He’s prepared as many Gold Cup winners nearly as anyone and he’s not stranger to getting a horse right on the day. I think he has him right where he wants him and the prep race at Ascot couldn’t have gone any better.
Pacha Du Polder is also in action on Friday in the Foxhunter Chase. Do you think he can make it three wins in a row in the race?
Whatever happens it’s going to be his last race. He’s been a brilliant horse for the whole team and for his owner Mr Stewart. His prep run was very ordinary but it was the same last year, so that doesn’t bother us too much. Hopefully they’ll go really fast and he can pass a few with a mile to go and gradually get involved. It’s all about it being a stamina test and he’s at his best around the course. That said, more important than anything this year is that he gets around safely and comes home safe so he can have a long and happy retirement because he deserves it.
Quel Destin kicks off the day for the yard in the Triumph Hurdle. Can he score again?
When he won at the start of the season we thought he’d be a Fred Winter horse but he’s just got better and better. Physically he’s done remarkably well and he’s a good-sized horse now. He might lack the class of the favourites, but he jumps very well, stayed very well and will definitely run his race. He’s a proper solid horse in that race.
And, finally, is there anyone else running on Friday you’re particularly looking forward to?
I like Magic Saint in the Grand Annual. In time he’s going to be better than a handicapper and as long as inexperience doesn’t catch him out he’s got a strong chance as well.
What the others say of their key day four runners…
Tiger Tap Tap – Triumph Hurdle: He got very close to Sir Erec at Christmas and we expected him to run a huge race at the Dublin Racing Festival. I’d prefer to think his true form is what he showed at Christmas. He’s got a really good each-way chance.
Whiskey Sour – County Hurdle: Whiskey Sour ran a good race last year. He’s been freshened up and is on a good mark again.
Al Boum Photo/Bellshill/Invitation Only/Kemboy – Gold Cup: Bellshill is a beautiful horse and his best form is going right handed really and he’s not been at his best at Cheltenham before. Kemboy has done alright at Cheltenham before and has improved all season. He got a fabulous ride from David Mullins last time but he’ll need to step up, as will Invitation Only. Al Boum Photo is the most interesting one. He’s done nothing but improve and he’d be the one I’d ride if I had the choice.
Shattered Love – Gold Cup: She should be better than she was at Leopardstown. The key to her is a bit of give underfoot, so if the ground’s in her favour I can see her running a good race. The trip should be just what she wants and I’d like to think she could surprise a few people with the run she produces.
Dallas Des Pictons – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle: I won’t be able to ride him but he’s the handicapper everyone in the yard has been looking forward to this week. It’s a race Gordon always wants to win and he looks like the right sort of horse for the race.
Birchdale/Dickie Diver/Downtown Getaway – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle: I love Birchdale. He’s a very progressive horse and won a Grade 2 at the course last time. He’s a horse for the future but I think he’ll take a lot of beating. Dickie Diver will love the trip and ground, and Downtown Getaway shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s been schooling well at home.
Might Bite – Cheltenham Gold Cup:
He’s a gorgeous horse. If you’d have said to people this time last year that a year on he’d be 16-1 or 20-1 for the Gold Cup they’d have laughed you out of the room. That shows you what horseracing is and they really aren’t machines you can just programme to go out and run the same way every time. He’s been very disappointing this year – there’s no two ways about it – and he needs to be better at Cheltenham.
That said, he’s been showing up really well at home in the last couple of weeks and I think he’ll be better than he has been so far this season. For his sake, I hope the ground isn’t too soft again as he didn’t see the trip out u