David Pipe has reaffirmed his belief Grands Crus is a well handicapped horse ahead of his eagerly anticipated return in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
The top-class staying hurdler made a brilliant start to his career over fences last term, completing a hat-trick with a devastating performance in the Feltham Novices' Chase at Kempton, beating the likes of Silviniaco Conti and Bobs Worth with ease.
He failed to come up with the goods when widely considered as one of the bankers of the Festival in the RSA Chase, but scoped badly after finishing fourth and connections are in confident mood ahead of the first major handicap of the new campaign.
"I have made no secret of the fact that I consider a mark of 157 to be reasonable enough, especially with the likes of Silviniaco Conti franking the form in no uncertain terms in the Charlie Hall Chase," the trainer told his website www.davidpipe.com.
"He has always shown plenty of speed so the trip of two and a half miles for him first time up should be ideal - they will be going a good clip and that should help him settle early on. He will be my only runner in the race."
Second in the betting behind Grands Crus is, of course, the incredible Hunt Ball.
Carrying the colours of ebullient owner Anthony Knott, the seven-year-old enjoyed quite a spectacular campaign last season, rising from a mark of just 69 to 157 after winning seven times from nine starts, and trainer Keiran Burke was thrilled after his charge came through his final piece of work with flying colours.
"He did his last serious work ahead of the Paddy Power and he was very good, as good as gold, and I was very pleased," said Burke.
"He did a piece of work at Richard Barber's and worked very, very well. I rode him and we did 15 furlongs - three times up his gallops with a four-year-old unraced horse. I couldn't be happier and he is exactly where we want him before the Paddy Power. He is fresh and well and looking really, really well as well.
"He will now do light canters the rest of the week and we'll freshen him up for Saturday."
31 October 2014Osborne ready to 'roll the dice'
Dank bids to sign off on a high
Turf glory in sight for Telescope
Red Ed upbeat about Cadeaux
Aktabantay out of Breeders' Cup
Tearless secures Good Friday ticket
Overnight stay for Johnson
Crawford banks on Izzini progress
Toast could make Spencer think
Road charts route to Royal riches
Grece excels at Saint-Cloud
Hawk given Greatwood option
Hannon: Early speed key for Osaila
30 October 2014Tearless takes Lingfield honours
Johnson taken to hospital
Royal summons for Apache
Bowe takes aim at WKD bullseye
Hootenanny 'smoking' for BC mission
Avenue roads lead to Newmarket
Shu to be kept busy
Scu sweet on Sensation Ascot raid
Murtagh succumbs to Cup charms
Dandino to stay in Australia
Glance denied Mackinnon defence
Bailey ace rules Supreme at Taunton
O'Brien hit by Magician blow
Diablo in big-race picture
Buckley raises Toast to Osborne
Pastille seeking four-timer
Conti all set for Charlie Hall
Barnes out to storm Saint-Cloud
Williams issues Buywise warning
Lynam reveals Slade stalls fears
29 October 2014Lame Magician out of Breeders' Cup
Diablo in big-race picture
Mullins enters strong Hennessy team
Damaged hock behind Estid reverse
Eckhart team rocked by injury blow
Hunt Ball makes Power play
Morgiana a T bone of contention
Kirby ponders Buttons French raid
Glance camp turn to Williams
Wohler trusts 'professional' Moore
Red alert to Cup challenge
Head targets more Mile glory
Mile hope Toronado in 'great form'
Telescope camp banking on Moore
Twiston-Davies link excites Moore
Flying third to Bob on hurdling bow
Harden to test top staying waters
Godolphin take share in Belardo
Mullins has big guns at Down Royal
Annacotty set for Kempton return
Powell and Bradley cleared
28 October 2014Fingal camp on weather watch
More injury woe for Popham
Dickin unveils Thomas gameplan
Power stalls in Flemington spin
Toast drawn nine in BC Classic
My Ambivalent passed fit by vets
Harry out to bring House down
Three and easy for ton-up Hanagan
Wood carves out Galway verdict
More Of That in Wetherby frame
Big guns confirmed for Charlie Hall
Byron pencilled in for Far East
Newbury reverts to original title
Magician to stay in the US
Henderson considers hurdles for Bob