Lostintranslation looks to hold outstanding claims of providing trainer Colin Tizzard with a third winner of the feature race at Kempton on Boxing Day, the 3m Grade 1 King George VI Chase (15:05).
This seven-year-old mixed it at the very highest level last season, winning two of his six starts and also posting some cracking efforts in defeat.
After digging deep to beat Defi Du Seuil in the Grade 2 Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, the son of Flemensfirth found that rival only three-quarters of a length too good in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles at Sandown.
He then again had to play second fiddle to Philip Hobbs’ stable star at the Cheltenham Festival when beaten just over two lengths in the JLT Novices’ Chase.
Lostintranslation then gained a deserved success at Grade 1 level when running out an impressive winner of the 3m 1f Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.
This stunning success marked him out as a potential 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup contended.
That view was confirmed when Lostintranslation put in a dazzling display to land the Listed 2m 4f Colin Parker Memorial at Carlisle on seasonal reappearance.
Sent straight to the front by regular pilot Robbie Power, he jumped impeccably throughout and had his three rivals under pressure a long way from home.
He never had to be asked a serious question and won by 2 1/4 lengths despite being eased close to the finish.
Brilliant in Betfair Chase
Lostintranslation has since gone on to land the Grade 1 Betfair Chase over 3m at Haydock. He put in a really authoritative display to beat course specialist Bristol De Mai.
A brilliant winner of that valuable prize in each of the past two seasons, the popular Nigel Twiston-Davies trained grey was aiming to become the third three-time winner on Merseyside.
He quickly adopted his usual front running role in the four-runner contest and had stable companion Ballyoptic and Frodon under pressure rounding the home turn.
However, having raced six lengths off the pace in the hands of a confident Power, it was at this point that Lostintranslation moved ominously into contention.
He got in a bit tight at the last two obstacles, but then only had to be driven out on the long run-in and stayed on dourly to prevail by a comfortable 1 1/2 lengths.
Lostintranslation never put a foot wrong throughout, so it was a performance which oozed class.
It also marked him out as something potentially very special and only further enhanced his Gold Cup claims.
The King George VI Chase is the stiffest task he has faced to date, but Lostintraslation is fully expected to prove up to it and looks the one to be on at 2/1 with Paddy Power.
Cyrname a formidable opponent
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls is the most successful in the race having landed it a remarkable 10 times courtesy of See More Business (1997 and 1999), Kauto Star (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011), Silviniaco Conti (2013 and 2014), and Clan Des Obeaux (2018).
He saddles two leading contenders in the shape of Cyrname and Clan Des Obeaux, and a case can be made for both.
However, the former is the highest rated chaser in training and on official figures has 8lb and upwards in hand on his rivals – so is clearly going to be a tough nut for Lostintranslation to crack.
The seven-year-old Nickname gelding is two from two at this venue having won the Grade 2 Wayward Lad over 2m at this meeting two years ago and the 2m 4f and Pendil Novices’ Chase over 2m 4f two starts later.
Going right-handed is essential for Cyrname and he was awesome on his final start last season when landing the Grade 1 Ascot Chase over 2m 5f in runaway fashion.
Stamina the big question
He put in an electric round of jumping when making all and slamming Waiting Patiently by 17 lengths in a very fast time.
Cyrname comes into this having looked as good as ever on return to action in the Grade 2 1965 Chase over 2m 5f at Ascot, where he inflicted a first defeat over the obstacles on the mighty Altior.
Unbeaten in 19 previous starts over hurdles and fences combined, Nicky Henderson’s dual Queen Mother Champion Chase hero and four-time Cheltenham Festival winner was all the rage to make it 20 wins on the spin.
However, Altior was beaten fair and square by Cyrname who made all to win a shade cosily by just over two lengths.
The big question is whether Cyrname will prove as effective over the 3m trip of the King George VI Chase which he now tackles for the first time in his career.
His run style suggests it could stretch him, so for that reason alone he looks worth taking on at odds of 7/4 with Coral.
Clan Des Obeaux out to retain King George VI Chase crown
The aforementioned Clan Des Obeaux enjoyed his finest hour last season when beating Thistlecrack by 1 1/2 lengths in this, so looks sure to make a bold bid to retain his crown.
The seven-year-old challenged on the bit three from home and, after taking up the running approaching the last, only had to be driven out to register a cosy success.
Clan Des Obeaux was value for more than the winning margin and the front two pulled 12 lengths clear of the third home, so the form has a rock solid look to it.
The son of Kapgarde then followed-up in effortless fashion in the rearranged Grade 2 Denman Chase at Ascot when quickening clear to slam Terrefort, who is a very smart performer himself, by 11 lengths.
Clan Des Obeaux then seemingly found 3m 2f beyond him when fifth of 16 to Al Boum Photo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, before finding Kemboy nine lengths too good in the Grade 1 Betway Bowl at the Aintree Grand National Festival.
He comes into this on the back of just one run this season when a highly promising four-length runner-up to Road To Respect in the Down Royal Champion Chase, where he travelled well and took up the running three from home before getting outstayed on the run-in.
The stable’s runners were needing an outing at time, so it was a fine effort in defeat and a run which can be upgraded.
Clan Des Obeaux is sure to be primed to the minute for this, so at odds of 9/2 with Betfair, he is arguably better value than his stable companion Cyrname.
Thistlecrack the each-way value in King George VI Chase
Lostintranslation’s handler Tizzard also saddles Thistlecrack. He competes in the King George VI Chase for a fourth consecutive time and appeals most from an each-way betting perspective.
The John and Heather Snook owned 11-year-old, who took the World Hurdle at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, won the race as a novice the following winter when scoring eased down by 3 1/4 lengths from multiple Grade 1 winning stable companion Cue Card.
He then finished fourth to Might Bite in 2017, before running a blinder 12 months ago when beaten beaten just 1 1/2 lengths by Clan Des Obeaux.
Thistlecrack comes into this year’s King George VI Chase renewal on the back of a fine length second to reigning champion British staying hurdler Paisley Park in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last month.
He travelled ominously well into that conest and looked like a real threat at the final flight until lack of race fitness took its toll close home.
Thistlecrack is entitled to come on a bundle for that spin and, given his proven form in the race, makes plenty of each-way appeal at the 16/1 on offer with Betfred.