Monet’s Garden is set to renew old rivalries with Kauto Star in Saturday’s Commercial First Ascot Chase at the Berkshire venue.
Nicky Richards’ stable star won the race 12 months ago when contested over two miles and three furlongs.
The Grade One event has been extended by two furlongs this year but after Monet’s Garden came out on top on his only meeting with Kauto Star at Aintree earlier this season, Richards is relishing the task.
“A lot of horses who like two and a half miles have their programme set in stone a little bit, so it is great for the sponsors that they are going to have a few runners,” said Richards.
“But we’ll see as the week wears on, when they keep looking at Kauto a few might start to get cold feet! Anyway, we are going to have a go.
“The extra two furlongs this year should not bother him. He’s won over three miles over hurdles and he gets it on a flat track.
“When he won this race last year, Dobbs (Tony Dobbin) said he could have gone round again so we won’t start making excuses about the trip – unless Kauto comes and does us in the last 20 yards!
“It’s fantastic for racing. You’ve got to take your hat off to Paul (Nicholls) and Clive Smith (owner) because you couldn’t have blamed them if they had gone straight to Cheltenham with the £1million bonus on offer.
“They are taking a bold step and everybody in racing should applaud them for it. They never shy away from a challenge and run him over all sorts of trips. He’s a fantastic horse.”