King George challenge in Bravemansgame's crosshairs

Connections of Bravemansgame are plotting a path towards the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Trainer Paul Nicholls expects the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby to be the potential starting point to the season for his stable star.

The Grade One-winning hurdler was foot-perfect in winning his first four fencing starts last season, including a brilliant victory over Ahoy Senor in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase on Boxing Day.

The seven-year-old disappointed behind the same rival on his final start of the campaign at Aintree, but Nicholls is delighted with his condition ahead of his comeback - with a return to Kempton for the King George top of the agenda.

He said: "The King George is very much the plan for him, but there are lots of races he could run in beforehand. He could go to the Charlie Hall if he is ready or he could go to Sandown the week after for that intermediate chase if there was rain about.

"My idea is to give him one run before the King George. We are very happy with him - we just want to keep him big and well like he is at the moment and try and keep the form going forward in the spring.

"It might sound stupid, but he was prepared to run at Cheltenham and he had done enough by the time Aintree came round.

"He still doesn't convince me he is a dour three-and-a-quarter-mile stayer until he proves otherwise and Cheltenham and the Gold Cup is a different test to three miles around Kempton.

"He looks great and I'm happy with the way he is."

Bravemansgame could be joined in the King George by two previous winners of the race in Clan Des Obeaux and Frodon.

Clan Des Obeaux was victorious in 2018 and 2019, while fellow 10-year-old Frodon struck gold in 2020.

"I'm sure there is another good race in Clan Des Obeaux and his ultimate target this season will be the Bowl at Aintree as he loves it around there," Nicholls added.

"I expect he will go for the King George as well. He has won it twice and he deserves to be in there.

"Frodon has been brilliant and we will start off in the Grade One at Down Royal he won last year. He was ready for his life that day and the same will happen this season.

"He won't win a Gold Cup and is unlikely to win another King George, but that race suits him well and he will probably run in that again."

Nicholls confirmed Greaneteen is likely to return in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter before defending his crown in Sandown's Tingle Creek, while Hitman is pencilled in for the Old Roan Chase at Aintree.

The Ditcheat handler feels he is particularly strong in the novice chase division this season, with Grade One winners Gelino Bello, Stage Star and Monmiral among his leading hopes.

He said: "Gelino Bello will now go chasing and is a super horse to go over fences. Hopefully he can progress from what he did over hurdles.

"Monmiral is a very interesting horse. We will start him at two miles and see where we end up. Often a good two mile chaser needs to stay, so I would say he would be just that.

"Stage Star is a Challow Hurdle winner, though he went a little bit Pete Tong in the spring, like Bravemansgame. He has had a breathing operation, which will help."

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