PAUL Nicholls is feeling increasingly bullish about Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Clan Des Obeaux.
The champion trainer reckons the dual King George hero is ‘his best chance of a winner’ at next month’s Cheltenham Festival.
The eight-year-old was beaten 11 lengths into fifth behind Al Boum Photo in the 3m2f feature 12 months ago.
But he goes to the Festival a fresher horse this time around having not run since easily defending his crown at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Nicholls said: “Clan Des Obeaux is obviously a dual King George winner and looks absolutely fantastic in his coat.
“He was one of eight horses we took to Wincanton this morning, and he did a proper workout with Frodon over two miles.
“Last year, we went from Kempton to the Denman Chase, which was put back a week, and then to Cheltenham.’
“We are coming in with a different preparation this year because we have worked out that he is best when fresh.
“His best runs have been from Haydock to Kempton last season and then this season from Down Royal to Kempton.
“He is only eight and is bound to have improved. I think he is in as good a shape as he has ever been.”
The horse has yet to win in five starts at Cheltenham, but that does not concern Nicholls.
He continued: “People say he does not act around there, yet he was just beaten by Whisper in a novices’ chase and finished second in a Caspian Caviar Gold Cup under top weight, when he was half the horse he is now.
“He ran well in last year’s Gold Cup and was bang there jumping the last. He did not quite finish off his race and I think that was down to a few things, the preparation being one of them.
“He is very effective when he is very fit and very fresh – I think he is lethal on those terms. I think he is my best chance of the week.”