MONEY BACK if your horse and rider part company during the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day – join now to bet!
We look at FIVE things to really like about CYRNAME in Boxing Day’s historic King George VI Chase:
1. Jockey’s favourite.
It is an interesting concept that the decision of a 21-year-old jockey could have such a profound effect on the outlook of a race. Yet, that is where we are. Last year, Harry Cobden rode Clan Des Obeaux to his first King George VI success and it would have been the safe option to revisit that saddle. His decision to choose the stable’s other horse, Cyrname, is striking. Trainer Paul Nicholls said, “I simply advised Harry to put all emotion aside and go for the horse he felt had the best chance and I can’t say I was too surprised.” That’s a double whammy seal of approval.
2. Highest rated chaser in training.
Altior has long been seen as the pound-for-pound best horse in jumps racing in the eyes of the public, with his stunning record of 19 wins on the trot. Despite the BHA rating Cyrname 1lb higher earlier in the year, Altior still went off as the odds-on favourite before their dual in the Christy 1965 at Ascot last month. History justified the BHA’s decision and they doubled down by raising Cyrname another pound to 177. It is perhaps now rather ironic that Altior translates in Latin to ‘Higher’ – not anymore!
3. The only horse to beat Altior over fences.
If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. The BHA’s ratings only mean anything if the performances translate accordingly. In the Christy 1965, Cyrname led from the front and dominated Altior, never giving him a whiff of a chance. We saw some great jumping, hard running and a wonderful late burst of speed to see off this famous challenger. Ignoring all the key questions around Altior, Cyrname did his part, and in emphatic style. Any horse that beats Cyrname in the King George VI will need to put in a career-best performance…and some.
4. Trained by the best.
Paul Nicholls’s record in the King George VI Chase is peerless. He was won this race a record 10 times, albeit with the rather large asterisk of Kauto Star being responsible for half of those. His most recent win was last year with Clan Des Obeaux, ending a sequence of three years without a victory. He has been champion trainer 11 times in the last 14 years and will see this as a chance to make that 12 in 15, especially given arch-nemesis Nicky has ducked the challenge with Altior. In 2016, Colin Tizzard managed to train home the first and second with Thistlecrack and Cue Card. We make Nicholls 4/1 to do that with Cyrname and Clan Des Obeaux in either order.
5. He has never fallen!
Not to jinx anything but Cyrname has a flawless record over fences. That’s not to say it can’t happen. In National Hunt racing, every jump is another breath held, and it is always a joy when a race finishes with every runner and rider intact. That is why we are offering ‘Faller Insurance’ for all horses in the King George VI Chase – we hate hard-luck stories, so we will give you money back if you back a horse that falls. Here’s to an exhibition of flawless jumping, please!