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Nicholls and De Bromhead ready stars for the King George

By Jon Vine
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15 Dec 2021
  • Quotes from connections ahead of the 2021 King George VI Chase
  • This Grade One headlines the action at Kempton on Boxing Day
  • Paul Nicholls looks set to run Clan Des Obeaux, Frodon and Saint Calvados
  • Henry De Bromhead and owner Barry Moloney discuss Minella Indo's chances
  • Royale Pagaille has been ruled out of the King George through injury
paul nicholls
Trainer Paul Nicholls poses with Clan Des Obeaux at Manor Farm Stables. (Getty)
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Read some key quotes from the leading connections ahead of the 2021 King George VI Chase.

Frodon handed Paul Nicholls' his 12th win in the King George on Boxing Day 12 months ago. Bryony Frost dictated the pace of the race brilliantly, holding on from the front to deny Waiting Patiently, Clan Des Obeaux and Saint Calvados.

Paul Nicholls took Frodon, Clan Des Obeaux and Saint Calvados - who was transferred to Ditcheat from Harry Whittington's stable in the summer - to Wincanton for a racecourse gallop on Tuesday. Before their workout, Nicholls spoke to the press about their preparations.

"Clan is very fresh and well and he was mad fresh yesterday morning." Nicholls began. "It's a different preparation to what we have given him leading into the race before. Normally he has had a run before going to the King George but I think doing this will suit him better.

"Frodon has had his month off and is now back working away. He looks in good order. He has been bucking and squealing and making himself known in the yard."

"Saint Calvados hasn't had a run for us yet. He has always gone well (fresh) in the past so we thought we'd go straight there on the back of doing a load of work at home. They are three interesting horses for the race."

"Saint Calvados ran very well in the race last year. He just didn't jump well in the straight so we've done lots of jumping. The main two have to be Frodon and Clan on what they have done on the form. They're in good shape.

"Clan looks as good and as well as ever in himself, while Frodon is Frodon! We're just looking forward to the race now."

Taking on the might of Ditcheat will be Minella Indo, who handed Henry De Bromhead his first Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival earlier this year. 

Rachael Blackmore's mount could only finish third behind Frodon when the pair met on their reappearance at Down Royal. With stablemate A Plus Tard set to defend his Savills Chase crown, De Bromhead has decided to send his stable star to Kempton over Christmas instead.

“Our plan is to definitely to go for the King George." De Bromhead confirmed. "We are looking forward to that. He is in good form. It is a Grade One, so it is never going to be easy, but we will take our chance."

Minella Indo
Minella Indo (centre) after beating Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup. (Getty)

The idea to run Minella Indo at Kempton's Christmas Festival was likely put forward by owner, Barry Moloney. In an interview with the Racing Post, Moloney stated that it's always been a dream of his to win this historic chase and he thinks Minella Indo has the perfect profile for the race.

"The King George is such an iconic race that we’ve always wanted to have a horse good enough to win it." Moloney said. "After we had to take Monalee out last year I can remember saying to Henry at the time that, if we could get Minella Indo there at some point that would be great. Thankfully, so far, everything is on track and all things being equal, that’s where he will run.”

“My working assumption at the moment is that Rachael will ride him this Christmas and then we’ll see what happens when we get to the Gold Cup. The probability is that, after Christmas, he will go straight for the Gold Cup. That will be the plan.”

"You can take it that we think we will be competitive at Kempton. We’ve very excited. It’s going to be a tough race but, if our fella is on song, I’d rather be on him than anything else in the race.”

“Minella Indo definitely has the gears. If you look at him coming down the hill in the Albert Bartlett, Rachael was swinging out of him, he was absolutely flying. He’s got everything. He’s no slouch and we wouldn’t be going to Kempton if we didn’t think he’d handle the course."

“He’s a real challenge to get fit because he eats all around himself in the off season. He goes a bit mad and then Henry [de Bromhead] is tasked with trying to get him back fit. He will come on a lot for his comeback at Down Royal and we can already see that at home. He’s on the right track.”

“It’s just unbelievable to have a horse like Minella Indo. We are still pinching ourselves, to tell the truth. We really, really fancied Monalee for this race last year. Frodon would not have had a free run of things if Monalee had been in it. Rachael would have taken him on right from the beginning and that course would have really suited him."

One who won't be taking up their entry in the King George is Venetia Williams' stable star, Royale Pagaille. Williams' seven-year-old sustained a cut when finishing second to A Plus Tard in the Betfair Chase, and hasn't recovered in time to run in Kempton's Christmas showpiece.

"He got a wound at Haydock, which means we won't have sufficient time to prepare him for Kempton, so he won't be going there," Williams confirmed on Tuesday. "I don't know where he'll go next, but he'll run again this season."

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