Trainer Paul Nicholls has reported his leading Betway Bowl Chase contender Clan Des Obeaux to be “fresh and well” as the Ditcheat handler prepares to take a formidable Manor Farm Stables squad to Aintree this week.
The seven-year-old, part-owned by ex-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, is a best-priced 11/4 to claim victory around the 3m 1f stayer’s course on Thursday.
But it’s tight at the top of the market for the highlight of day one’s Aintree Festival, which includes three other Grade 1 races, with Kemboy at 3/1 and Bristol De Mai best-priced at 7/2 for the win.
Nicholls has saddled four previous winners in the Bowl but neither of his two biggest jumps icons, Kauto Star and Denman, were able to add to his personal tally.
He liked what he saw from Clan’s exercise on Saturday and believes there is good reason to expect a better performance from his stable star than in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month.
The impressive King George winner travelled smoothly throughout the race before having to settle for fifth behind 12/1 winner Al Boum Photo.
“The track will suit Clan at Aintree as it’s an easier track than Cheltenham and the ground will be better,” Nicholls told the Racing Post.
“I knew on Gold Cup day that the rain in the morning was going to finish our chance. We’ve not really got an issue with his stamina, but three-miles-two-and-a-half-furlongs at Cheltenham is different from three-one at Aintree and he ran well in the race last year, when he was nowhere near ready.”
Clan des Obeaux went off 8/1 for the 2018 renewal and came home in third, 10-and-a-half lengths behind winner Might Bite.