Philip Hobbs feels Captain Chris will prove well able to adapt to the testing ground when he goes for glory in the Betfair Ascot Chase.
The nine-year-old handled conditions well enough to win the Amlin 1965 Chase at the Berkshire course in November, and then ran a tremendous race in the King George VI Chase at Kempton when he was only beaten a neck by Long Run.
"Ideally he wants better ground, but he won the Amlin on heavy. He seems in great form and he was always going to have a few weeks off after the King George," said the trainer.
"You can always supplement for the Ryanair, but the Gold Cup has always been the plan and we want to keep our horses apart. He ran a fantastic race at Kempton and is in very good form. He always had a tendency to jump right, so it shouldn't matter too much at Ascot."
Finian's Rainbow has something to prove after finishing a well-beaten last of four behind Captain Chris on his seasonal reappearance. Last year's Queen Mother Champion Chase hero has had a wind operation since then and needs a run.
"We've always said we don't want to run him on soft ground, but we haven't got a choice and there's nowhere else to go," said trainer Nicky Henderson.
"I'd have loved to have had another week, but I want to give him a run and we will be able to decide about Cheltenham after Saturday."
Colin Tizzard expects Cue Card's performance will tell him which race to go for at Cheltenham, the Ryanair Chase or the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The seven-year-old has to put behind him a disappointing display in the King George, when he failed to last out the three miles.
The trainer said: "This is a race we planned from Christmas to take in before Cheltenham. He didn't get three miles on heavy ground on Boxing Day. Whether he'll get three miles another day there, I don't know.
"Our view is if he's going to run in the Ryanair he needs to nearly win this. If he doesn't stay he can go back and take on Sprinter Sacre in the Champion Chase. We will keep the options open to the end, but Ascot should show us which way we are going to go at Cheltenham."
18 December 2014Simonsig camp play the long game
In-form Mole buries Exeter rivals
Sedgefield hit with heavy fine
Alvarado back for National service
Star names check in for Ryanair
Bobs revved up for Lexus repeat
Winner given Lexus go-ahead
Knott disqualified for three years
Geraghty braced for power Serge
Geraghty excited by Josses return
Cheltenham dreams for King's Zero
Sivola bids for Long Walk hat-trick
Activial stars in Ladbroke field
Power plan uncertain for Westener
Kauto pleases in Olympia display
Mullins eyes twin assault on Lexus
Value oozes class in Newbury romp
Annie Power on road to recovery
Spencer strikes after U-turn
Vautour ready for next jumps test
Mullins banks on Faugheen progress
Victory set to skip Ladbroke
Mullins: Fever can go the distance
17 December 2014Sidelined Brian misses Whittle
Sceaux to sidestep Haydock raid
Square season derailed by injury
Lexus a non-starter for Clouds
Europe return hinges on ground
Injury woe for Cookson
Plans on hold for Topper
Appeal success for Russell/Enright
Mulholland makes Master plan
Cango makes Catterick impression
Field sizes under BHA microscope
Quinn outlines Aurore options
Legal laying down the law at Ludlow
Ground dictates Attaglance plans
King heartened by Walkon return
Cross set Christmas conundrum
16 December 2014Pipe bowled over by Palace
Cole to duck Leopardstown mission
Pipe bowled over by Palace
Arbuthnot has Starluck options
Geraghty taken with weekend Heroes
Moore the merrier at Plumpton
Estrella back with a bang
Options fluid for Hargam
Lough set for Lexus workout
Sceaux in Haydock frame
Victoire at Ladbroke summit
Five left in Long Walk
15 December 2014Hannon has trio lined up for Dubai
Sherwood sweats on Power Welsh bid
Puffin angling for Ascot return
Kauto takes the plunge at Olympia
River looks swell for Theatre
Ginge team ponder Plate target
View sights fixed on Kempton prize
Sole to stick to trusted routine
Spencer in retirement U-turn
Elliott keen to play waiting game
Pineau pulled up at Carlisle
Heroes steps up in thriller
Estrella returns at Wolves
New camp delay Christmas call
Not a bother on Berlais
Farraaj sixth in Hong Kong Cup
Flintshire comes good in Vase