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Clan Des Obeaux tipped for big-race glory at Down Royal Festival

 

Paul Nicholls
Paul Nicholls

By Ron McKnight

The field for the £130,000 Ladbrokes Champion Chase was reduced from 12 to nine at yesterday's forfeit stage for Saturday's Down Royal Festival feature race.

British Champion trainer Paul Nicholls will seek a fourth success with Clan Des Obeaux, winner of last season's King George VI Gold Cup.

While the top chaser had to settle for fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and runner-up at Aintree, his big race jockey on Saturday, Harry Cobden, is confident that he can produce a bold showing.

Cobden reports: "I think he is much better going right-handed, which Down Royal is, and that is a big plus for him. He does run well left-handed, but he is 5lb better going right-handed.

"He ran well in the Gold Cup but I think that took it out of him a bit. They went a fair old gallop and he had a hard race.

"He seems in very good form and he schooled well last week. He had a nice gallop around Wincanton the other day with me and he felt great. I'm just looking forward to riding him now."

Last year's winner, Road To Respect, also remains in the race - one of a trio trained by Noel Meade, who also has the locally owned Snow Falcon engaged.

Gordon Elliott, who has landed three of the past six renewals of the Grade 1 chase, still has a quartet to pick from, including the high class novice Delta Work - winner of his beginners chase at the track in 2018 and who concluded last season by winning the Punchestown Champion Novice Chase.

Elliott has covered all angles, with Delta Work also now engaged in the Grade 2 Novice contest - one of five entries, with four owned by Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown Stud.

Paul Nicholls, as anticipated, has entered Secret Investment for the trip to Lisburn, while Real Steel, last seen when winning at Punchestown in the spring, is another notable runner alongside Minella Fair, owned by the Hunt family and due to carry their colours at the local track.

Envoi Allen and The Very Man, entered on Friday's opening day, have again been entered by Elliott in the Tayto Hurdle, while Dundrod trainer Paul Traynor, having completed a hat trick with Shumaker at Wexford, has entered his stable star for the valuable £50,000 handicap hurdle, with the Nicky Henderson trained Rathhill an eye catching inclusion in the race.

Gordon Elliott again dominates the entries in the opening juvenile hurdle and the concluding bumper.

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