King George VI Chase: Cyrname, Clan Des Obeaux and Lostintranslation set to dominate

By Cornelius LysaghtBBC horse racing correspondent
Cyrname won The Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot Racecourse on 23 November
Ladbrokes King George VI Chase,
Date: 26 December Venue: Kempton Park Time: 15:05 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary BBC Radio 5 Live

The three kings of the West Country.

Top steeplechasers Cyrname, Clan Des Obeaux and Lostintranslation, based within a few miles of each other in south west England, look set to dominate jump racing's £250,000 Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Rising star Cyrname and 2018 winner Clan Des Obeaux are both part of the powerful string supervised by 11-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls near Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Barely 15 miles away, Lostintranslation has been prepared for the fast and furious, three-mile, mid-season championship by trainer Colin Tizzard but his stablemate Thistlecrack, the 2016 winner, is a non-runner with a bruised foot, leaving a field of just five.

While either Nicholls contender would provide their trainer with an 11th victory - a total that includes a record five with race-great Kauto Star - Team Tizzard looks for success number three.

Robbie Power will once again be on Lostintranslation, with which he's been making a striking impact on the jumps campaign, while, a year on from their memorable triumph together, jockey Harry Cobden has chosen to switch from Clan Des Obeaux to Cyrname.

Clan Des Obeaux, partly owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, was most recently runner-up in Northern Ireland's Champion Chase at Down Royal; he'll be ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies.

Cyrname, on which Cobden will wear the blue and pink silks of financier Johnny de la Hey and his wife Sam, has been carrying all before him, notably at Ascot when beating star-name Altior, though the King George is the first time he's raced over as far as three miles.

The jockey said: "It was a really tough decision, Clan Des Obeaux won the race last year and he gave me one of the best days of my life.

"But the way I had to look at it was which one would I be most annoyed coming by me, and I'd probably be more annoyed if I didn't ride Cyrname if he made all from the front.

"He's the highest rated horse in training and I think the track will suit, I think he'll stay [the distance] and if he can dictate from the front he's obviously got a good chance."

It's the exciting Cyrname over Lostintranslation for me for this particular challenge on the flat Kempton track; for Lostintranslation, the very different examination provided by the Cheltenham Gold Cup - longer and more undulations - in March may suit better.

A considerable place in jump racing history beckons for the winner; since its inception in 1937, a series of the sport's most applauded names have been successful, none bigger than the big-jumping, front-running grey Desert Orchid.

'Dessie' became something of a national treasure when taking the race for a then unprecedented four times between 1986 and 1990.

His record was eventually eclipsed by Kauto Star whose reputation is honoured elsewhere on Kempton's valuable Boxing Day programme with the Kauto Star Novices Chase (13:55 GMT).

In that one, the Tizzards have high hopes of success with Slate House.

And, in the Christmas Hurdle (14:30), the pecking order among a powerful squad of top hurdlers under the care of trainer Nicky Henderson will probably become clearer when he runs Fusil Raffles, the race-favourite, 2018 winner Verdana Blue and Epatante.

Listen to coverage of the King George VI Chase at 15:05 on BBC Radio 5 Live