Harry Whittington is hoping to take another big scalp with Saint Calvados in Saturday’s Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
His stable star made a winning reappearance at Naas last month, beating Footpad who was last season's leading novice chaser and beat him 53 lengths in the Racing Post Arkle at Cheltenham.
Now connections have their sights trained on reigning champion chaser Altior.
"After the Arkle we were hoping to get back on track more than anything. To go there taking on Footpad, I guess we would have been happy to have given him a really good race and finished a good second and anything more is a bonus really, but to put in that kind of mature and polished performance, that’s what was so pleasing about it.
"He is much more the finished article this season. Last winter he was quite a big raw horse, perhaps on the weak side still. He had three months in the field from the start of April and four months to get back for the Ireland race and all he has done is get stronger and stronger and stronger, his work has got more professional."
So what are the chances of becoming the first horse to beat Altior over fences?
"We are happy with our lad and he looks a million dollars. He’s fit and well. Obviously he has got to improve, but he is only a five-year-old. He is developing all the time physically and he is ready for the challenge and what a challenge it is! I hope he can turn up, run his race and continue to improve because he is young and progressive. Hopefully we are good enough to give the great horse a race," the trainer added.
"I have always said, the softer it is the better chance that he will have. He handles soft ground so well, whereas other horses don’t. We know he is so effective on it, like he was in the Kingmaker, with the fractions that he set and the time of the race and everything. So for me to give him his best chance, the softer it is the more dangerous we are. With all the rain around, hopefully we will get our conditions and put it up to them!"
Tickets for the Betfair Tingle Creek Christmas Festival on Friday and Saturday are available from http://sandown.thejockeyclub.co.uk/ or by calling 0344 579 3012. Under 18s go free when accompanied by an adult.