Clan maybe has the advantage but Cyrname will be very dangerous, says Nicholls
Paul Nicholls has promised Cyrname will be a "different horse" to the one thumped by stablemate Clan Des Obeaux 12 months ago when the pair clash again in Saturday's Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton.
A huge 21 lengths separated the pair last year but the champion trainer says he cannot split them this time around with Cyrname coming to the Grade 1 a fresh horse.
The pair dominate the betting with the sponsors making the hat-trick-seeking Clan Des Obeaux 7-4 and Cyrname a 15-8 chance.
Preparations have been markedly different this time with Clan Des Obeaux a gallant second to Bristol De Mai on heavy ground in the Betfair Chase last month, while Cyrname cruised to victory in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in October.
Nicholls, who is bidding for a remarkable 12th triumph in the £200,000 Grade 1 contest, said: "The thing we've learned most with Cyrname after last year is that he needs to be fresh to run at his best. He wasn't right last year after the race with Altior and ran well just to finish second in the King George.
"He looks great now. Harry [Cobden] schooled him this morning and had a big smile on his face. You'll see a different horse compared to what we saw last year."
On Clan Des Obeaux's preparations, Nicholls said: "The Betfair Chase was probably one of Clan's best runs. He was fit and well for that race and has recovered well. He schooled this morning with Sam [Twiston-Davies] and he's ready to go.
"Everyone keeps asking me who I think has got the best chance and truthfully I think there is nothing between them.
"Clan maybe has the advantage because he has the track record and has won the last two runnings, but Cyrname loves Kempton and we're in a completely different place to where we were last year. He'll be very dangerous.
"The best chasers in the land are here and that makes it a very good race. There are no excuses with their preparation. May the best horse win on the day."
The King George picture became a little more crowded on Monday morning when Nicky Henderson supplemented Gold Cup runner-up Santini for the race, but Nicholls expressed little surprise at the news.
"Thinking about it the Santini thing didn't surprise me", he said. "Nicky's got to run Champ somewhere, probably the Cotswold Chase, and he'll want to keep those lovely horses apart. Santini has run well at Kempton before and it's probably a good race to run him in."
Ladbrokes King George VI Chase
Sponsors betting: 7-4 Clan Des Obeaux, 15-8 Cyrname, 11-2 Santini, 8-1 Lostintranslation, Monalee; 16-1 Real Steel, 20-1 Frodon, Waiting Patiently, 33-1 Saint Calvados, 50-1 Black Op
Nicholls also has two other runners entered, both of whom are flying quietly under the radar but still command much respect.
Bryony Frost will once again partner former Ryanair Chase winner Frodon, who was last seen finishing down the field in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree, with Real Steel the fourth addition to Nicholls' rock-solid King George hand.
Daryl Jacob will take the ride on the ex-Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old, but Nicholls believes both may be fighting for places behind his star duo.
"Frodon deserves to be in this line-up", Nicholls said. "He's got a good record around Kempton but has a mountain to climb to beat the other two.
"I'm still trying to get a handle on Real Steel. The horses we've taken from Willie have always needed and improved for a run, but Daryl schooled him this morning and was happy.
"You never know in racing but I think those two have it all to do to beat Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname. They might be fighting for places."
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