Harry Whittington hopes Saint Calvados can give Altior a run for his money when the pair clash in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday.
The Sparsholt handler put the five-year-old through his paces ahead of his shot at the Grade One contest when partnering him in his final piece of work over a mile on the gallops in Lambourn on Saturday.
Well fancied for the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in March, the Kate and Andrew Brooks-owned gelding was not seen at his best when fourth to Footpad, but reversed that form when making a winning return in a Grade Three at Naas last month.
Whittington said: “At the end of the day he couldn’t have been more impressive in his prep run and in the Kingmaker.
“Andrew and Kate Brooks have waited a long time for a horse like this and why shouldn’t he have a go?
“If he improves again that will mean he is good enough to give Altior a race of some sorts. We can’t go there expecting to beat Altior, but I’m expecting him to go there and give him a good race.
“I was really thrilled with his last piece of work and it felt amazing. He got a nice tow from Rouge Vif, who has plenty of speed, and it couldn’t have gone better.
“He powered me through over a mile. He was fresh on the way home and he could have gone back and done it again. He is right where I want him.”
He added of the decision to run in Ireland: “There was no way we could have gone from an Arkle to a Tingle Creek, so everything has gone to plan so far. Fingers crossed we can keep him in one piece before Saturday.”