Obeaux can hit the right note in Caspian Caviar
Paul Nicholls-trained five-year-old still has scope off his handicap mark
Clan Des Obeaux was a bit disappointing in the second half of last season and didn't even go to the Cheltenham Festival, but he really seems to be coming good now and he can land the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup for Paul Nicholls at odds of 10-1.
A heavy defeat behind Top Notch in the Scilly Isles put paid to festival ambitions, and he also ran below par at Ayr in April. But those defeats meant he started this season on a workable mark, and with more maturity now than he had a year ago, he is starting to blossom.
On his return at Kempton last month he ran Whisper to half a length off level weights, a run which looks even better after the latter very nearly took the Ladbrokes Trophy on his latest start.
That put Whisper on a perch of 169 yet Clan Des Obeaux is still 14lb lower than him even though he won with authority at Haydock last time out when beating Vintage Clouds.
He handled the heavy ground well on that occasion, but he can also go on quicker and although still tender in years as a five-year-old, it's worth noting that Nicholls has won this with two four-year-olds in the recent past – Unioniste and Frodon.
Both of them won off marks in the 140s but I'm fairly sure Clan Des Obeaux has more potential than either of those and a mark of 155 might underestimate him.
Nicholls still has options in this including Le Prezien, Romain De Senam and Bouvreuil and has not committed Clan Des Obeaux to the race yet – but it would seem to be the logical option for him before a potential crack at Graded events.
The biggest danger to him could be Starchitect, but it's a concern that he couldn't get the job done in the BetVictor Gold Cup last time out.
He only had Splash Of Ginge to beat up the home straight and couldn't get past him. He does handle big handicaps well so expect him to go well again but for all his promise he's only won two small races at Ayr and Stratford in recent seasons.
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