Road To Respect remains on course for a tilt at the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup following his narrow defeat in the Irish equivalent at Leopardstown.
Having finished fourth behind Native River in the blue riband at Prestbury Park last March, Noel Meade’s stable star made a spectacular start to the current campaign when claiming a third Grade One success in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal in November.
He slipped on two occasions on his way to finishing third to the impressive Kemboy in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown the following month and he was an odds-on favourite to go two places better on his return to the Dublin circuit for the Irish Gold Cup.
Following a stirring battle with the Willie Mullins-trained Bellshill, Road To Respect was denied by a short head, but Meade reports his charge to be none to worse for those exertions.
“All is good. He came out of the race in good form and we’re happy with him,” said the Tu Va handler.
“That (Cheltenham Gold Cup) is the plan. He didn’t jump as well as he can the last day and we’re just putting it down to the fast ground.
“He didn’t seem to want to let himself down on it, but he still ran a good race and there’s obviously very little between him and the winner.
“We’ll just try to get him to Cheltenham in one piece and hope for a better round of jumping and see where it takes us.”