Gary Moore expects to have a clearer idea of Diakali’s ambitions after he puts his unbeaten record over fences on the line at Cheltenham on Friday.
It is well over five years since the son of Sinndar won successive Grade One prizes at Punchestown when trained by Willie Mullins.
He won seven races for Ireland’s all-conquering champion trainer in all and was placed in the Aintree Hurdle and the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse.
Diakali, now a nine-year-old, joined Moore earlier this year and won his first two chase starts at Fontwell and Newton Abbot in June by an aggregate of 52 lengths.
He bids to complete his hat-trick in the two-mile squareintheair.com Novices’ Chase on the first day of the new season at Prestbury Park.
“This has always been the plan since his last run. It was the only suitable race for him really,” said Moore.
“He seems in great heart and he’s working well, so we’ll see what happens.
“He has surprised me a bit, but obviously he’s been a very talented horse.
“Whether he’s up to this or not, we’ll find out on the day.”
Diakali’s rivals include Dan Skelton’s One For Billy, the Donald McCain-trained Dear Sire and All Set To Go, who is two from two over the larger obstacles for Kevin Frost.
Lil Rockerfeller is the star attraction in the “Matchbook Time To Move Over” Novices’ Chase over an extended three miles.
The 2017 Stayers’ Hurdle runner-up was a workmanlike winner on his fencing debut at Uttoxeter almost three weeks ago and King is looking forward to seeing his charge return to the Cotswolds.
He said: “He’s obviously run well at Cheltenham before and the experience of running there over fences can only do him good.
“He did a really nice piece of work on Tuesday morning and schooled well last week.
“I had a walk around Cheltenham earlier in the week and the track is in fabulous order.
“I think he’s definitely straightened up for the run at Uttoxeter and we’re looking forward to running him.”
There is plenty of Irish interest across the seven-race card.
In the opening Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, John McConnell’s Go Another One, Dermot McLoughlin’s Canardier and Gordon Elliott’s Make My Heart Fly all feature, while High Expectations and Water Sprite give Elliott a strong hand in the Brandon Hill Capital Handicap Hurdle. McConnell runs Roi De Dubai in the same race.
Elliott is also represented in the Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase by Presenting Julio, in which Eugene O’Sullivan’s Oighear Dubh is another Irish raider.
Plenty of punters will be expecting the Elliott-trained Silver Star to go well in the concluding “Matchbook Betting Podcast” Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.