Trabolgan has been given a clean bill of health following his impressive display in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup and is on course for the Stan James King George VI Chase at Sandown on St Stephen's Day.
The seven-year-old, having his first race since winning the Royal & SunAlliance Chase in March, defeated L’Ami to give Mick Fitzgerald and Nicky Henderson their first win in the Newbury feature.
Henderson pointed to the relative inexperience of his charge and the probable improvement to come in his Christmas assignment.
He said: “It’s easy to forget the Hennessy was only his seventh race over jumps and for that reason the one thing I was always worried about beforehand was his inexperience.
“That’s why I entered him for the intermediate chase at Sandown on Friday.
“The attraction of the Hennessy over the Betfair Chase was that he originally had 11st and it actually finished up being like a limited handicap with a weight range of only 16lb, which obviously helped.”
Reporting Trabolgan to have taken his exertions well, Henderson added: “I’ve never won the King George but it’s the natural race for him and it would be quite nice to be able to tick the box.”
Fitzgerald believes Trabolgan deserves to be considered a contender for the Gold Cup after his weight-defying performance.
“Fantastic. It was one of those days when everything goes to plan – no blips and an amazing day,” he told At The Races.
“It was very strange to think it was a race Nicky had tried to win for 25 years.
“He’d had a couple of close shaves and never quite got there, but the amazing thing is we’ve finally got a horse good enough.
“I think the Gold Cup is looking more and more open now that Kicking King has been beaten in his first two races this season.
“Unfortunately we haven’t got Best Mate any longer so it opens the door for a lot of other horses. There’s Kingscliff, who won so well at Haydock, and Beef Or Salmon, who ran well up there.
“You’d have to say this fellow has still got to find improvement.
“He’s won the Hennessy off 151 whereas when Burrough Hill Lad won it he was a previous Gold Cup winner.
“You are looking at a different picture but this fellow of ours certainly comes into it now.
“The King George is the logical step. It’s the next three-mile test and Nicky said yesterday Sandown will suit him.
“It’s a funny track, a stiff uphill finish. This horse of ours does stay well but he’s also got a lot of speed.”
Trabolgan is down to 11-2 with Coral for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham next March and spokesman Simon Clare said: “This is the biggest ante-post gamble of the jump season by far.
“As soon as we offered 8-1 the floodgates opened and even cutting it to 13-2 failed to stem the flow of bets.
“We are still laying hundreds of bets at 11-2 and we may have to take the scissors to his price again.”
Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, Coral bet: 11-4 Kicking King, 4-1 Kingscliff, 11-2 Trabolgan, 10-1 War Of Attrition, 16-1 Beef Or Salmon, Ollie Magern, 20-1 Take The Stand, 25-1 Fundamentalist, Forget The Past, Cyrlight, Hedgehunter, King Harald, Celestial Gold, Our Vic, 33-1 bar.