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Nicholls has high hopes for Clan as he eyes up Down Royal spot


Thinking ahead: Clan Des Obeaux with Paul Nicholls
Thinking ahead: Clan Des Obeaux with Paul Nicholls

By Keith Hamer

Clan Des Obeaux could reappear at Down Royal in November before seeking back-to-back wins in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Paul Nicholls has identified the Champion Chase as his preferred first port of the call for the seven-year-old, who is part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and enjoyed his biggest success to date when beating Thistlecrack in the Christmas showpiece at the Sunbury track.

He went on to be fifth in the Cheltenham Cup, before ending his season with second behind Kemboy at Aintree.

Nicholls said: "He's a talented horse, he improved enormously from the Betfair Chase to win at Kempton and win well.

"He won the Denman Chase and then arguably didn't quite get the trip in the Gold Cup. He was bang there at the last and just didn't really truly stay that day.

"He's a year older and probably if we ran him in the Gold Cup we'd ride him slightly with more restraint, but the King George is his number one target.

"He's seven, so he's bound to keep improving. To be a true Gold Cup horse he needs to find a bit more stamina, but there's really good races to win with him.

"The King George will be the number one target, he loves going right-handed and we'll probably start him off at Down Royal and then after Christmas make a plan.

"Ultimately I've always felt the Punchestown Gold Cup would suit him very well late season, but if we did go for something like that it might mean forgoing Cheltenham or Aintree, so we'll have to make a plan."

The Ditcheat trainer added: "He's going ever so well at the moment, if we don't go to Down Royal it would be a bit of a headache, he might have to go back for the Betfair Chase, but I'm thinking in my mind Frodon might be going there, so we'd love to go to Down Royal as a prep for the King George."

The Gold Cup is the big aim for RSA Chase hero Topofthegame, with a crack at the Ladbrokes Trophy the target in the first half of the campaign.

Nicholls said: "He's a big horse and has done very well through the summer.

"He's in good shape for where he wants to be, I haven't made a definite plan for where he's going to run, but he is a novice until November 1, so we could find a novice chase somewhere as a prep for the Ladbrokes Trophy.

"The Gold Cup is the ultimate aim and we'll work back from that. He probably won't run mid-January through to Cheltenham as I think he is a little bit better fresh, so we'll have two, maximum three, runs before then.

"I wouldn't want to run them all in the King George, there's Clan Des Obeaux and Frodon and all those others, but all of them will be entered in all the races and you could perhaps look at Leopardstown (Savills Chase) with him - three miles round there would be as a good a track as you could want for him."

Meanwhile, Emaraaty Ana can get his season back on track in the British Stallion Studs EBF Conditions Stakes at Salisbury.

Winner of the Gimcrack last season, Emaraaty Ana was viewed as a Classic contender at the start of the year, lining up in both the British and Irish 2000 Guineas, finishing well down the field on each occasion.

Dropped back to six furlongs for a Listed heat at Salisbury on his latest start in June, soft ground was against him as he pitched into all-aged company but he was not totally disgraced in finishing a three-and-a-half-length fifth.

He has been off the track since that run, but Kevin Ryan seemingly still thinks he is a sprinting type given his Ayr Gold Cup entry and Emaraaty Ana can confirm that impression with victory here on favourable terms.

A drop back to a mile and three-quarters can see Horatio Star regain winning ways in the Meachers Global Classic Supporting Gift Of Sight Handicap.

Brian Meehan's four-year-old struck over this distance at Bath in July and just found the two miles and a furlong there too far when runner-up to Charlie D a month ago.


CATTERICK: 2.00 Vintage Times, 2.30 Modakhar, 3.05 Valkenburg, 3.35 Strawberryandcream, 4.10 Highland Acclaim, 4.40 Dew Pond, 5.10 Betty Grable, 5.40 Funkadelic.

GOODWOOD: 2.15 Broad Appeal, 2.45 Call Me Katie, 3.20 Celtic Art, 3.50 Angel Grey, 4.25 Themaxwecan, 5.00 Sweet Pursuit, 5.35 Look Closely.

KEMPTON: 5.45 Dreamy Rascal, 6.15 Mubakker, 6.45 Bollihope, 7.15 Penrhos, 7.45 Mawakib, 8.15 Hydroplane, 8.45 Bird To Love.

SALISBURY: 4.50 Haraz, 5.25 Lost In Time, 6.00 Areehaa, 6.30 EMARAATY ANA (NAP), 7.00 Horatio Star, 7.30 War Eagle.

DOUBLE: Emaraaty Ana and Angel Grey.

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