The application of cheekpieces to sharpen up Clean Des Obeaux’s concentration saw the steeplechaser win this Grade One race – the North’s Gold Cup – by 26 lengths and record his best performance since landing a second King George VI chase at Kempton in December 2019.
Former Gold Cup winner Native River was a remote third, the good ground did not help his cause, while dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll was jumping the last in fourth as Clan Des Obeaux passed the winning post. Ruth Jefferson’s Waiting Patiently was pulled up.
Though the winner’s task was made easier by Mister Fisher unseating his rider at the 12th fence, the win also justifed the decision of trainer Paul Nicholls to miss the Cheltenham Festival last month.
“I wanted to try cheekpieces on him - I schooled him, and he seemed to be in great form, but I’ve known he needed them for a long time,” explained the likable Cobden.
“I’ve only just managed to persuade everyone to put them on - and look at the difference it’s made. He obviously saves a little bit for himself, and that just brought the best out of him today.
“I wanted him to be up there, fairly positive, I wanted to get him jumping well.
“I didn’t want to miss any fences at all.
“He’s done everything, hasn’t he? Even when he was left alone with three parts of a lap to go, he was brilliant.”
Cobden confirmed the application of cheekpieces was the result of much discussion at Nicholls’ yard. He added: “We’ve had plenty of conversations about it in the past - and thankfully it’s all come together on the big day.”
This was the third leg of an unforgettable treble for Clan Des Obeaux’s ownership team of Sir Alex Ferguson the legendary Manchester United manager, Paul Barber, Ged Mason and friends.
They took the first three races – all Grade Ones – starting with Protektorat in the opening Manifesto Novices’ for trainer Dan Skelton and his jockey brother Harry.
Monmiral then completed a perfect season and made it five wins from five career starts to land the Group One Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle for Nicholls and Cobden who can’t wait to go novice chasing on the exciting positive.
And then the hat-trick was completed by Clan Des Obeaux to the delight of Ferguson who famously won football’s treble in 1999 with Manchester United.
He’s been a long-time admirer of Cobden and said: “Harry rode him positively and he was fantastic. That’s the best day I’ve had in my time in racing, which is about 20 years or so.”
They will be hoping there’s more to come when Cobden rides Give Me A Copper for the Ferguson team in the National.
Meanwhile Paul Townend, Ireland’s top rider, misses the ride on Burrows Saint in the big race – with amateur rider Patrick Mullins deputising for the leading contender who is trianed by his father Willie.
Ridden to Irish Grand National success in 2019 by Ruby Walsh, Burrows Saint was bred in France by Neil and Julie Morgan who enjoyed a great association with the late West Witton trainer Ferdy Murphy, most notably with Grade One-winning chaser Kalahari King. They now have NH horses in training with Sue and Harvey Smith.
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