Connections of Clan Des Obeaux feel the course at Down Royal will play to his strengths as last season’s King George VI Chase hero bids to get the new campaign off to a flying start in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase on Saturday.
The seven-year-old goes into the Grade One feature with plenty of stable confidence, as trainer Paul Nicholls seeks a fifth win in the three-mile feature.
“The right-handed track will suit well and it’s the target before he goes to the King George and other places,” said Nicholls’ assistant, Harry Derham.
“He is very well, I think he has improved this year and will take a lot of beating. He had a school on Thursday morning and we are very happy with him.
“I wouldn’t swap him. I have the ultimate respect for the other horses and I think it will be a very good race, as it should be for a Grade One. A right-handed Grade One is perfect for him.
“It is all well and good having a good novice, but you have got to step up into open company – Delta Work is a very good, I’m sure, but so is Clan, as he has won a King George and his record right-handed over three miles is exceptional.
“I would say he is at least 5lb better going right-handed. He just jumps slightly to his right and he always has done. I’m quietly confident he will take a lot of beating.”
Road To Respect will attempt to become only the third horse after Beef Or Salmon (2004 and 2006) and Kauto Star (2009 and 2010) to win the race twice – but the first to land back-to-back renewals.
“Road To Respect is in great form. I’m very happy with him. He goes there as well as he’s been,” said trainer Noel Meade.
“I couldn’t be happier with his preparation and he’s in good shape.”
Meade also saddles Snow Falcon, who made a winning reappearance at Gowran four weeks ago.
“He’s in great shape as well and we couldn’t be happier with him, either,” said the County Meath handler.
“We’d like to see a bit of rain for both of them.”
Road To Respect is one of three wearing the Gigginstown House Stud colours, along with the Gordon Elliott-trained pair of Delta Work and Alpha Des Obeaux.
“Road To Respect is well, so hopefully he’ll put in a clear round. Noel is happy with him,” said Gigginstown’s racing manager, Eddie O’Leary.
“Gordon is happy with Delta. All is going well and Alpha Des Obeaux is a fit horse, so he has the advantage of fitness.”
A three-time Grade One-winning novice, Delta Work did have an entry in the Daily Mirror Chase over near two and a half miles on the same card, but connections opted for the longer race.
“Delta is going for the big one because we want to keep him to three miles,” said O’Leary.
Elliott said: “Delta Work is in great form. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if he got beaten first time out. Look at him last year, he won here and improved all year.
“There is a good bit of improvement in him, Saturday is not the be all and end all. He is definitely going to build on it.
“I can’t have him any fitter, but at the same time we want to build on it – if you look at him last year he built up all year.”
Gigginstown are represented in the Grade Two Daily Mirror race through Mengli Khan, with the Elliott stable also running Ben Dundee.
Meade feels Minella Fair faces a tall order, but it happy to let the eight-year-old, a winner at Limerick three weeks ago, have a go.
“It’s probably a bit of an ask, but the owners are keen to run so we thought we’d take our chance,” he said.
Nicholls looks to Secret Investor, winner of his last two starts in the spring, while the Mullins-trained Real Steel completes the quintet.
Envoi Allen, winner of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival, has 17 rivals as he makes his jumping debut under rules in the Tayto Group Maiden Hurdle.
The Elliott-trained five-year-old looked an exciting recruit when winning all his four bumpers last term.
“Gordon feels the horse is stronger again this year. He’s had a good holiday and Gordon is pleased with the way he’s done,” said Chris Richardson, managing director of owners Cheveley Park Stud.