Tom Taaffe believes Cane Brake is capable of taking a hand at the finish of the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Taaffe knows what it takes to win the Festival blue riband after sending out Kicking King to claim the prize in 2005 and is confident Cane Brake has all the right attributes.
“He was a very highly-respected novice and was going the right way there,” said Taaffe.
“He probably had every bit as good a profile as Kicking King really but he just never fulfilled his promise through one thing or another at the time. He seems to have found his old form, he jumps well, he stays well and I just felt he warrants lining up and I’m sure he’ll justify that on Gold Cup day.
“I wouldn’t be sending him if I didn’t think he would be in the prize money. I’m happy at this stage but there’s a long way to go and he has to get there yet.”
The seven-year-old was last seen when winning at Leopardstown last December but Taaffee is not concerned by his lengthy absence.
“He’s in great shape. He was in great from in Navan when he won the Troytown,” he explained.
“He’s had a proper preparation for the Gold Cup because he’s been dropped down, had a break and brought back fresh and well – so far everything is good with him.”
Taaffe also shared empathy with fellow Irish handler Mouse Morris, who had to rule out last year’s Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition through injury.
Kicking King suffered a similar fate for the last two seasons – although Taaffe is hopeful he can race on next term.
“He’s great and we’re very happy with him. He’s progressing well and we might see him this time next year if all things go well,” the County Kildare trainer told At The Races. I feel very sorry for Mouse as it has been a double-whammy for him, losing his mother at the weekend and War Of Attrition missing the Gold Cup.
“Every day in the paper now you’re going to read about another on the shortlist, it happened all last year and the year before and it’s just the nature of the business. The Gold Cup is the Gold Cup and it’s very hard to get them spot on on the day and the ones that are there on the day at 100% are the ones that perform best.
“It’s the Olympics of racing and when you tighten all the nuts and bolts, the cracks start to come.”
Cane Brake, who is set to be ridden by Paul Carberry, is as low as 16-1 with Paddy Power for the Gold Cup.