Clan the man: Des Obeaux makes it top ten for Paul Nicholls in King George

Clan Des Obeaux (Harry Cobden, right) jumps the last just ahead of Thistlecrack (Tom Scudamore) in the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day Harry Cobden gets very little wrong. He listened to his gut over advice from the sages, choosing Clan Des Obeaux in the build-up, and he listened to his instincts whispering ‘wait’ over the screaming urge to put the race to bed once they turned in. In doing so he secured his boss Paul Nicholls a tenth 32Red King George VI Chase. When Nicholls turned to the 20-year-old at the start of the season it heaped pressure on young shoulders. To watch him take a pull after jumping the second-last upsides a horse as once-dominant as Thistlecrack – who has clearly been restored to something like his very best by Colin Tizzard – showed exactly why Nicholls made the call. One of the horse’s part-owners Sir Alex Ferguson operated by the mantra if they’re good enough, they’re old enough and Nicholls’ tenth King George came courtesy of a jockey who was not alive when the trainer won his first some 21 years ago and a horse born after the legendary Kauto Star won the last of his five. Races like the King George are special because Gold Cup heroes and previous winners like Coneygree and Might Bite set a gallop so relentless horses like the reigning Cheltenham hero Native River simply cannot keep up – and runaway winners of this season’s stiffest jumping test like Bristol De Mai are forced into a mistake that also wiped out the eight-timer-seeking Waiting Patiently with a full circuit still to go. It was an incident Clan Des Obeaux, who jumped the fence on the outside of Bristol De Mai, only narrowly avoided. What he did not miss was the move by Tom Scudamore in the back straight when he surged to the front aboard Thistlecrack. Watching him jump the last in the back straight and put quality animals like Coneygree and Might Bite to the sword rounding the home turn was reminiscent of when he won this as a novice, except this time something could go with him. The Kempton faithful roared their past hero as he produced a lionhearted effort, Scudamore asking, Thistlecrack responding, all the way up the straight. But it was in vain. After the last he was overwhelmed as Cobden’s calm head and young shoulders finally began to move in a driving finish. Explaining the extreme patience he displayed, Cobden said: "I knew as soon as I got to the front he wouldn’t do anything, so I tried setting him up for the last and he outjumped Thistlecrack at the last and scooted away brilliantly. "All I was thinking was, ‘I hope there’s not one flying home because he might come past me I’m idling so much’." Cobden may have been worried about something nabbing him close home, but he also knew he was going to win about the same sort of […]