Is Clan the Man for Gold Cup Success? | Cheltenham Festival Preview!
Fresh from an impressive successive King George VI chase win, Paul Nicholls’ Clan des Obeaux heads in to Cheltenham as one of the favourites to lift the prestigious Gold Cup. Clan is co-owned by Ged Mason, Sir Alex Ferguson and the Barber family and a win would at the world-famous race course would be up there with some of the greatest sporting achievements associated with Morson.
We recently caught up with Paul Nicholls at an exclusive media day at his stables in Ditcheat and he was full of confidence for Clan and clarified what has changed in preparation in comparison to last year:
“He’s in good shape, he had a nice break after the King George. He’s had what I’d call an ideal preparation: bit of time between Kempton and Cheltenham, last year we went to Ascot in-between, which probably wasn’t ideal. He went to Wincanton this morning, had a nice gallop with Frodon. The pre-Cheltenham gallop was very tidy so I’m very pleased with him and couldn’t be happier”
Nicholls highlighted what makes Clan so special and why his true ability is still yet to be seen:
“Just class, that’s what makes all the good ones. He’s won two King George Gold Cups, which not many do. He’s a good lad, lots of ability, he’s only eight, so he’s just hitting his peak. This year/next year he’s probably at his best, he’s a proper horse”
Paul is no stranger to lifting the Gold Cup, having won it four times as a trainer and despite his illustrious trophy-filled career, he still couldn’t contain his enthusiasm and excitement about this particular race:
“I’d say this is the ultimate race, everybody wants to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. It’s an amazing race: big atmosphere, big build up, lots of pressure, lots of talk. It’s good going in there with a decent horse who seems to be in really good shape”
Nicholl’s main jockey, Harry Cobden, had a tough call at Christmas when deciding between riding Cyrname and Clan. Cobden ultimately chose the former, whilst Sam Twiston Davies rode Clan to King George glory. Despite this, Paul reaffirmed that it will be Harry riding with Clan at Cheltenham:
“He had a tough call at Christmas with him and Cyrname, but Harry’s the number one jockey and that’s it. It’s like having a football team with a number one striker, you’ve got that position and that’s how we work it"
Paul also gave an insight into his relationship with Ged and why it is so great to have had Morson on board as sponsors over the years:
“He’s had a succession of horses over the years and some real good winners at Cheltenham. He’s been a good pal of Paul Barber’s over the years and now he’s in partnership with him and Sir Alex. Obviously Morson sponsors the yard, so it’s great to have your best horse owned by your sponsor and Ged absolutely loves the game as you know.”