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."
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