Paul Nicholls’ Clan Des Obeaux proved his Cheltenham Gold Cup credentials on Saturday by cruising home to win the Denman Chase at Ascot.
The seven-year-old was favourite for the race after Native River’s connections decided not to run him.
The race was originally scheduled for Newbury but the outbreak of equine influenza saw it switched. With Native River out of the race, Clan Des Obeaux’s task became even easier and he was given a superb ride by jockey Harry Cobden.
The duo waited in the wings before Terrefort got tired and pounced to win in fine style. After winning by 11 lengths, Clan Des Obeaux’s price for the Gold Cup has dropped to 6.00, while Presenting Percy remains 4.00 favourite.
Speaking after the race, Nicholls admitted he is excited by his team’s chances ahead of the Festival at Prestbury Park.
He told reporters: “I was a bit nervous running, because you don’t want anything to go wrong this close to Cheltenham.
“Every time he runs he learns a little bit. Last year he was a big baby and was looking about in front, but this year he has come together so much.
“That will have done him the world of good, and it is now about putting the finishing touches to him to get him to perfection for Cheltenham.
“He has jumped brilliantly, and the confidence is high with him – I can’t wait to go to Cheltenham with a massive chance. “I’m dead happy, and we can go to Cheltenham full of confidence.”