*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing/Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason, you will lose your stake under traditional antepost rules
The dual King George VI Chase winner had been entered as top weight for the Sandown Gold Cup on Saturday but will instead head over the Irish Sea for next week’s Punchestown Festival.
Clan Des Obeaux hacked up by 26l in the Betway Bowl at Aintree’s Grand National Festival earlier this month to remind us of his Grade 1 class.
The nine-year-old now looks set to form part of a scintillating field at Punchestown after trainer Nicholls opted against the Sandown handicap over an extended trip.
Nicholls said: “I’d been deliberating about it for the last week really. Thursday is the day we had to supplement him for Punchestown and the same day we had to declare for Sandown. The weather forecast looks dry, which is good, so we’re going to go.
“Everybody has wanted to know what’s happening but it hasn’t been easy getting everything organised travel-wise to get to Ireland with the staff.
“I wanted to tick all the boxes first, make sure the horse is right and talk with Ged Mason, Sir Alex Ferguson and Paul Barber [owners] to make sure everything was right. We made a unanimous decision to go which is exciting.
“I’ve always thought Punchestown would suit him and the weather is nice, whereas Sandown would have been a bit of an unknown with him.
“He would have been carrying a lot of weight over three miles five furlongs and in the back of my mind I wasn’t 100 per cent convinced he would get that trip, he’s almost got a bit too much boot for it. Punchestown will probably be a smallish field and it will suit him.”
Minello Indo is the main attraction after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Henry de Bromhead is no doubt looking to cap off a whirlwind couple of months with another high-profile success.
Willie Mullins has five entries including dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo, Kemboy, Allaho, Melon and Easy Game.
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If that wasn’t enough, Fakir D’Oudairies, The Storyteller and Tiger Roll are also entered although the two-time Grand National king appears more likely to run in the Oaksey Chase at Sandown. Court Maid and Notebook complete the list of potential runners. Woof!
Nicholls added: “It’s a Grade 1, you’d expect that, but he’s used to running in those races and he’s in really good form at the moment. It’s a challenge but we’re looking forward to it.”
It’s going to be one hell of a race – and Paddy Power’s iconic duo Ruby Walsh and Frank Hickey have already revealed their antepost picks.
Our resident jockey-turned-pundit Ruby said: “We know Al Boum Photo stays really well, but he got beaten here by Kemboy in 2019, so I would be in the Minella Indo camp.”
While Paddy’s expert trader Frank added: “It wouldn’t surprise me if Al Boum Photo gets close but I think Minella Indo will win.”
READ MORE ON THE PUNCHESTOWN FESTIVAL
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- PP trader Frank Hickey picks Aintree winner to track at Punchestown