We're fiercely proud of the trainers in this county who make Gloucestershire such a centre of racing excellence, but in previewing the annual King George VI Chase, nobody has enjoyed more success than Somerset trainer, Paul Nicholls, so allow us some leeway to examine the chances of a trainer outside the county boundary. Not bad for a local lad who took his first steps in point-to-point racing at the age of 16, before going on to become an accomplished professional jockey, retiring after riding 133 winners over his seven-year career in the saddle.
Since receiving his trainer’s licence in 1991, the success Nicholls has enjoyed as a trainer is remarkable by any standard. It all began with a first winner named Olveston, aptly named after the Gloucestershire village where he was raised. Little could Nicholls have imagined, even with all his tireless effort and passion for horse racing, that he would go on to become one of the most successful trainers in British racing history.
In his career to date, Paul Nicholls has trained more than 3,100 National Hunt winners in Britain and Ireland, including major victories at pretty much all the most important Grade One races in either calendar. However, amongst all the famous triumphs, the annual King George VI Chase is perhaps the race with some of the fondest memories for Nicholls, given he is the most successful trainer of all time at this event, boasting 11 winners.
See More Business was the first, winning twice in 1997 and 1999, followed by Kauto Star with iconic Irish jockey Ruby Walsh in the saddle, romping to a spectacular record of five wins between 2006 and 2011. Subsequent victories include back-to-back triumphs for Silviniaco Conte in 2013 and 2014, followed most recently by Clan Des Obeaux in 2018 and 2019. With a record like that, horses trained by Nicholls are predictably amongst the most fancied to win the 2020 event.
According to the latest horse racing betting odds for the King George VI Chase, Cyrname at 3/1 and Clan Des Obeaux at 10/3 are the two clear favourites, with both 8-year-olds having been trained to great winning records by the careful hands of Paul Nicholls. Amongst his other entries for this classic Kempton race will be Real Steel at 16/1 odds, who could prove an interesting contender, and Frodon,
Having recently won the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on 31st October, Cyrname looks to be in great form and at just the right time ahead of participating at this traditional Boxing Day event, which remains one of the most popular and prestigious in the British horse racing calendar.
Meanwhile, it’s fair to say that Clan Des Obeaux has enjoyed a magnificent racing lifetime. This marvellous French-bred gelding has the opportunity to earn a place in racing legend, amidst the possibility of a third consecutive win at the 2020 King George VI Chase. Since the event was first held at Kempton Park in 1937, only three horses have managed the feat of winning more than twice.
The first was Wayward Lad with three wins between 1982 and 1985, immediately followed by Desert Orchid between 1986 and 1990. Of course, Kauto Star was the next and the first horse in the 21st century to achieve the feat for Nicholls, therefore, it goes without saying that the 58-year-old Somerset trainer would be delighted if Clan Des Obeaux is first past the post again this year.
The Gloucestershire pursuit to wrest the race from Nicholls grasp is sadly not so strong this year. Tom George's Black Op is one of three entries. Nevertheless, George is no Don Quixote. He has form in this race and a good record at Kempton, as Double Shuffle's 1l second to Mite Bite in 2017 testifies. Black Op finished his Novice season with one win and two runner up berths from 3 runs at the highest level, so he's no slouch.
Also entered is Kim Bailey's Vinndication, who ran a cracking race against Cyrname in the Charlie Hall at the end of last month. He needs to find opportunities to get his head in front in top 3 mile races if he's to be considered Gold Cup material, and Bailey was thrilled with his Wetherby performance.
The county's contingent is completed by Nigel Twiston-Davies' Al Dancer, a distant 5th to Put The Kettle On in the Arkle last March, but who has started the season well with a fluent win at Newton Abbot. The Twiston-Davies yard is always one to look out for in November.