Harry Cobden can barely contain his excitement as Cyrname’s clash with Altior at Ascot in the Christy 1965 Chase next weekend edges nearer.
The two highest-rated chasers in training are on course to meet in the Grade Two event over two miles and five furlongs.
That trip will pose no problem to Paul Nicholls’ Cyrname, having blitzed the field in a Grade One over the same course and distance last February – but dual champion chaser Altior needs to prove his stamina as he goes on trial for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase.
“Cyrname is in great form, I rode him the other morning, I don’t ride him as well as the lad who rides him out every morning though, he lights up when I get on him!” said Cobden.
“He felt fantastic, I schooled him and he jumped great. He’s had his wind done so hopefully we’ve got every base covered.
“Scott Marshall rides him every day and he has been very pleased with him and it’s just really exciting to look forward to.
“He loves Ascot, he jumps very well – he is a strong-travelling horse and he gets them off the bridle because he’s got so much speed.
“Obviously Altior is a class horse in his own right and will probably travel well behind me, so it will be an interesting race but one I’m really looking forward to.
“The race will probably begin in earnest when we turn into the straight and I’m just praying I’ve got a bit left under the bonnet!
“It will be tricky to know how fast to go and obviously Cyrname doesn’t hang about, so hopefully we don’t go too quick early and I can save a bit for the finish.”
One from the Nicholls yard who has been out of action since January is Dynamite Dollars, winner of four of his five outings over fences as a novice, including a Grade One and two Grade Twos.
He is now back in work, but will not be seen until the back-end of the season at the earliest.
“Dynamite Dollars is back in work, his form has worked out really well and he’s one I’m really looking forward to at the back-end of the season or, if not, next year,” said Cobden.
“He’s got age on his side, is a lovely big, strong horse and hopefully if it doesn’t work out this year he’ll be one for the Grade Ones next year.
“I’d say he could definitely go out in trip. He’s so straightforward and is very easy to ride. He’s one I’m really looking forward to coming back.”
One who has no such concerns is Truckers Lodge, already a winner this season and on target for the Welsh National at Chepstow on December 27, while a day earlier Cobden will attempt to repeat last year’s King George win on Clan Des Obeaux.
“Truckers Lodge is heading for the Welsh National and has a nice profile for the race. He loves soft ground, loves Chepstow and the handicapper dropped him 1lb for winning the other day, which was nice. He’s a real stayer so looks a nice type for the race,” said Cobden.
“I was delighted with Clan at Down Royal, he travelled and jumped very well and we were probably beaten by a fitter horse (Road To Respect) on the day but one who is also no slouch and is good at Down Royal.
“He’ll go straight to the King George now with a huge chance. We know he acts round there, he’s very good right-handed and he should put up a very bold show.”
Nicholls and Cobden have started the season in fine form, encapsulated with a 10th win for the yard in the Badger Beers Silver Trophy at Wincanton on Saturday.
The fact the winner, Give Me A Copper, is part-owned by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson also went down well outside of the racing bubble.
“A few of the early ones had been needing a run, but Saturday was a good, nearly all the horses ran well and it was great that Give Me A Copper won the big race,” Cobden went on.
“Looking forward the horses are in good spirits, the morale in the yard is good and we’re looking forward to the rest of the year.
“It was great to win a big race for Sir Alex, a legend in his own right, and Ged Mason (part-owner) is a huge supporter of mine, he sponsors me, so it was fantastic for those boys. I live near Wincanton so we had plenty of support.”
Cobden and Nicholls will be aiming for more success at Cheltenham this weekend, when Sunday could be especially fruitful.
Cobden said: “We’ve got Getaway Trump who should improve massively for his first run in the Arkle Trial, Politologue in the Shloer Chase, Quel Destin in the Greatwood and a nice horse called Ecco in the Grade Two novice hurdle.
“These are the days you want as a jockey, good rides in big races.”
Harry Cobden is an ambassador for Great British Racing. For more information please visit www.greatbritishracing.com