Tom Scudamore's faith in Grands Crus is undiminished as he looks forward to riding the ante-post favourite in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
Scudamore guided the seven-year-old grey to each of his three victories over fences last season and forgives him an under-par performance in the RSA Chase at the Festival in March.
"I'm looking forward to it. I had a sit on him last week. He's in good order. It's going to be a tough, competitive race, but I'm very happy with him and wouldn't swap him for anything," he said.
"From an early stage he wasn't his normal self in the RSA, but he wouldn't be the first horse to bounce back from that race. I've got maximum belief in him and hopefully he'll show it. It's a cracking race, but that's why the Paddy Power and the Hennessy are the two winter classics before the King George. They are great races to win and I hope we can do it."
Scudamore is seeking the first success in this prestigious handicap chase which his father, Peter, won in 1988 on Pegwell Bay. Grands Crus' trainer David Pipe saddled Great Endeavour to victory 12 months ago to open his account in a race his father, Martin, dominated for so long with eight victories.
The present incumbent at Pond House is simply hoping for a smooth run in the race, saying: "He's well, but it's a very hot and competitive race. With luck in running, hopefully he'll be thereabouts."
Hunt Ball was last season's big success story, rising a staggering 88lb in the ratings as he won seven races including the Pulteney Land Investments Novices' Handicap Chase at the Festival. He was beaten in his last start, but that was in the Grade One Betfred Bowl at Aintree, where he was third to Follow The Plan.
Trainer Keiran Burke said: "I'm a bit nervous, but I've done all my work now and it's down to the horse and jockey on the day. Hunt Ball is a very laid-back horse and you have to make him work. He has been back in a while following his summer break, as we didn't want to get him fit too quickly.
"The Paddy Power Gold Cup is a hot handicap chase and you have to be ready for a race like that. He has had a racecourse gallop and lots of schooling. He is a bigger and stronger horse this year, having grown a little bit over the summer. Hopefully, he has improved, too.
"Aintree came quickly after Cheltenham. It was the end of a long season and I think he was just a bit tired. We won't know if last season has left its mark until he runs on Saturday. I don't think it has - he feels brilliant."
24 October 2016Tawdeea to take aim at Doncaster after Leicester strike
Silviniaco Conti booked for Chepstow workout before racing
Tea For Two in mix for Sodexo Gold Cup
Double Shuffle in BetVictor frame for Tom George
Churchill form boost pleases Aidan O'Brien
Weather frustration set to continue for Ben Pauling and Barters Hill
Neil Mulholland to consider Haldon Gold Cup option for Fox Norton
Coneygree given Charlie Hall Wetherby entry 'just in case'
Coologue considered for Hennessy Gold Cup by Charlie Longsdon
Forgotten Rules team cool on hurdling career
Henry Candy has sole focus on Breeders' Cup Mile with Limato
Colin Tizzard has Thistlecrack sharp and ready for Chepstow chasing bow
Time called on career of dual Derby hero Harzand
Meydan a 'potential' destination for Gordon Elliott and Commissioned
Noel Meade rules Apache Stronghold out for the season
Ben Pauling to duck Bangor mission with Barters Hill
Third Intention books Hennessy ticket with Old Roan victory
Found set to be given Breeders' Cup Classic entry
Vazirabad repeats Prix Royal-Oak success
Titus rules in Leopardstown clash
Making Light betters colts in Killavullan Stakes
Flying Fairies floors Zawraq at Leopardstown
No Charlie Hall run for Gold Cup hero Coneygree
Native River in frame for Wetherby reappearance
William Haggas keeps Rivet's Guineas options open
23 October 2016Third Intention claims Old Roan Chase at Aintree
Titus rules in Leopardstown clash
Smooth success for White Satin Dancer at Leopardstown
Luke Morris breaks collar bone in Chelmsford fall
David Menuisier looks to France with Make Time
Jonjo O'Neill in no rush with Festival hero Minella Rocco
Eve Johnson Houghton raises hurdles possibility for What About Carlo
Fox Norton and Shantou Village provide Neil Mulholland with Cheltenham double
Rivet nails Yucatan as Andrea Atzeni strikes again at Doncaster
Identity Thief hacks up on chasing bow at Punchestown
Sceau so good at Cheltenham
Soie D'Leau strikes for Stubbs on Town Moor
Graham Lee times it right as Duretto pounces at Newbury
Rob Hornby blossoms on Doncaster scorer Rosie Briar
Feisty Coologue back on the straight and narrow at Cheltenham
Pleaseletmewin surges to Newbury glory for Ralph Beckett
22 October 2016Fox Norton back with a bang at Cheltenham
Laurence takes Doncaster prize after stewards' inquiry
Randox Health sign five-year County Hurdle sponsorship deal
Spanish Tenor aiming to hit winning note in Killavullan date
Zawraq takes Trigo test as he returns from lengthy absence
Prescott uncertain ahead of Pallasator's Saint-Cloud spin
Tom George hoping for winning return from God's Own in Old Roan
Sun Bets announced as All-Weather Championships sponsor
Waller targeting third Cox Plate win with Winx following Moonee Valley stroll
Simon Crisford sets Rodaini Newbury challenge
Neil Mulholland has Shantou Village ready to roll at Cheltenham
Winx impresse as she claims second Cox Plate victory
Heron Heights peaks as Henry de Bromhead returns to winning ways at Cheltenham
Frankel colt Mirage Dancer delivers at Doncaster
Blow for Bryan Smart as Delectation heads to Germany
Jonjo O'Neill sees sense in Carlisle comeback for More Of That
Legendary chaser Moscow Flyer dies aged 22
Yucatan leads the way for O'Brien in Trophy test at Doncaster
National Hunt Chase to be run in honour of JT McNamara
Identity Thief makes chasing bow at Punchestown
Norwegian raider Quarterback aiming for winning Newbury run
21 October 2016Frankel colt Mirage Dancer leaves it late to claim Doncaster honours
El Bandit plunders Cheltenham prize for red-hot Paul Nicholls
Jack Kennedy sidelined following new leg injury
Betway to sponsor three categories of the All-Weather Championships
David Elsworth mulling Lingfield outing for Swiss Storm
Mark Johnston pays tribute to The Last Lion as he retires to stud
Competition watchdog to probe online gambling firms amid unfair treatment claims
Charlie Appleby eyeing Breeders' Cup with Latharnach
Middle Park winner Shalaa retired to stud
Cloudy Dream stars as Brian Hughes bags Carlisle four-timer
I'dliketheoption sparks Jonjo O'Neill double at Ludlow
Thoughts turn to Dubai for Roger Varian and Postponed
Alpha Des Obeaux off the mark over fences at Thurles
Preis is right for Algometer
Henry de Bromhead to launch three-pronged Cheltenham raid
Yucatan spearheads Aidan O'Brien team as Capri swerves Doncaster date