SIR ALEX FERGUSON was given a belated Christmas present as Clan Des Obeaux stormed home to win the 2018 King George.
Paul Nicholls’ chaser gave part-owner Ferguson a memorable win at Kempton on Boxing Day as he defeated former winner Thistlecrack.
Under a perfect ride by Harry Cobden, Clan Des Obeaux went about his business quietly in the early stages of the race.
Then when push came to shove, Cobden let his six-year-old set sail for the leaders.
Still on the bridle as they loomed upsides leader Thistlecrack, Cobden waited for as long as he could before giving Clan Des Obeaux the green light to go and win the race.
The six-year-old did just that, and while he wasn’t doing much in front, he saw out the race well to the delight of Nicholls, Cobden and all the team at Ditcheat.
Thistlecrack was far from disgraced in second with Native River plugging on for third after being outpaced early on.
Last year’s winner Might Bite, sent off the favourite, was bitterly disappointing once again and came home last of the finishers.
Nicholls said: “At Haydock (following Betfair Chase) I got in the car with Harry Cobden afterwards and said ‘you have got a headache now’ as Politologue had just won at Ascot and I said ‘what you are going ride?’.
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“He said ‘I’ve not got a headache, there is only one I’m going to ride’. He has a lot of faith in the horse. He thought he ran really well the other day and it made a man of him.
“If you look at the form he didn’t have much to make up on Thistlecrack the other day. We’ve always believed in him a lot, as you know.”
He went on: “Ten King George wins is amazing. For my landlord (Paul Barber), Ged (Mason) and Sir Alex Ferguson it doesn’t get any better. It is absolutely awesome.
“It was a very good run at Haydock for the stage of his career and he sort of got forgotten. Some said he was not good enough, but horses progress. He was like a footballer coming from the Championship going into the Premiership that day.
“He got a little bit lost, but he stayed on and it was the basis of a good future and I think there is a lot to come from him. To win races like this means more than anything, I can tell you. He is a proper Gold Cup contender.”
Cobden said: “It’s absolutely brilliant. He has improved a lot for his last run and he has done it really well in the end.
“I definitely thought he would improve. He is very lazy at home and didn’t do much from the last. I was struggling to keep up most of the way, but his jumping put him in there.
“It’s massive, winning the King George.”
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Tizzard was delighted with Thistlecrack and said: “He is 10 coming on 11 and it was lovely for him to come back. We thought he was (back), but no one knows.
“I expect Native River will go to Newbury where he went last season, then on to Cheltenham. Thistlecrack, I’m not really sure.
“I will make sure they are not in the same race next time. Hopefully they will clash in the Gold Cup, as that is what we want, but we will keep them apart until then.”