HARRY Cobden believes Cyrname’s win in Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase was the perfect prep for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase – the centrepiece of the Christmas racing programme.
Cyrname headed to last year’s King George – where he was defeated by stablemate Clan Des Obeaux – on the back of a gruelling victory over Altior on bottomless Ascot ground.
But Cobden, second to North Yorkshire-based Brian Hughes in this year’s title race, believes the Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname is a more mature horse this season after settling early on in Wetherby’s three-mile feature.
And it explains why he’s staying loyal to the chaser at Kempton on Boxing Day rather than reverting back to course specialist Clan des Obeaux who he rode to King George glory in 2018. Sam Twiston-Davies, who won last year’s race, remains on the dual winner.
“They are obviously two very good horses, but I think Cyrname is a different horse going into the race this year – I hope he is anyway,” said a thoughtful Cobden.
“He wasn’t going from quite a long way out last year, I don’t think he was ever going actually. I made the wrong decision and it cost me a stack of money!
“Going into this year I think Cyrname is in good form, he came out of Wetherby really well.
“I’ll probably ride him a little different this year, I won’t be blitzing off in front trying to serve it up to them, I’ll try to conserve as much energy as I can. I might not even sit in front, I’ll probably try to take a lead and see where we are turning in.”
He went on: “He wasn’t keen at Wetherby and travelled really well. I know we didn’t beat any world-beaters, there was no serious Grade One horse in there, there was no Clan Des Obeaux, but the way he went round there was good and he stayed on up the straight really well.
“I genuinely feel he’ll come on for it as he didn’t go away for a gallop, last year he had one before he beat Altior but this year he hadn’t been properly tuned up and hopefully that has put him right for the King George.”
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Altior will line up in the two-mile Desert Orchid Chase on December 27, day two of Kempton’s high-profile Christmas meeting.
Withdrawn from last weekend’s Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown because of heavy ground, trainer Nicky Henderson contemplated an entry in the Peterborough Chase which will be staged at Cheltenham this Friday after the abandonment of Sunday’s meeting at Huntingdon, the race’s traditional home, due to waterlogging.
“Altior won’t be entered, he wouldn’t want two and a half miles around Cheltenham. He’ll go to Kempton at Christmas,” said Henderson who has faced criticism for withdrawing his stable star from the Tingle Creek when the horse has winning form on heavy ground.
Meanwhile, Paddy Power Gold Cup hero Coole Cody remains on course to bid for a major double at Cheltenham on Saturday after featuring among 24 horses confirmed for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.
The Evan Williams-trained nine-year-old made much of the running in the November race and may be given the chance to become only the fourth horse to win the two major handicaps in the same season after Pegwell Bay (1988), Senor El Betrutti (1997) and Exotic Dancer (2006).
Coole Cody could renew rivalry with the Paddy Power third Al Dancer while the weights are topped by Master Tommytucker. Brian Ellison’s Windsor Avenue and Sue Smith’s Midnight Shadow carry Yorkshire hopes.
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