Connections of Voy Por Ustedes are hoping conditions will not be too testing for the former champion two-miler in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown tomorrow.
The eight-year-old’s only previous attempt at three miles came in the King George VI Chase at Kempton 12 months ago when he was third to Kauto Star.
This year the Alan King-trained gelding will try to give his owner Robert Ogden back-to-victories in the Lexus after the ill-fated Exotic Dancer struck for the Jonjo O’Neill yard last Christmas.
“It will be an interesting race for us, the fact that he’s going left-handed,” said the owner’s racing manager Barry Simpson.
“Ground and trip are always a question mark. I’m confident he’ll stay the trip, it’s just if he stays it in the ground.
“There are very few alternatives for him. It’s a big prize so that’s why we are there.”
There are three other British raiders, including supplementary entry What A Friend, among the 12 runners, although the meeting must survive a precautionary 7.30am inspection.
Connections of the Hennessy runner-up What A Friend, part-owned by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, felt it was worth taking a punt and making the trip to Ireland.
“He worked well on Wednesday morning, I’m very happy with him,” said trainer Paul Nicholls.
“When he looks great and he’s fresh and well, that is the time to catch him.
“It was a good run the other day. It’s a sort of open Lexus and I think he’s got a great chance and that is why we are sending him over.
“He’s a bit of a character and that is him, he’s always going to be like that so we’ve got to live with it, but he’s got a lot of talent and one day he’ll win a big one.”
Money Trix, trained by Nicky Richards, and Cloudy Lane from Donald McCain’s yard make up the English quartet.
Ruby Walsh could have ridden What A Friend but has decided to stay loyal to the Irish stable of Willie Mullins and partner Cooldine.
The RSA Chase victor will be making a belated first appearance of the winter campaign.
“He hasn’t been the easiest to get right this year, but he’s starting to come to himself now,” Mullins – who has yet to win the Lexus – said in his diary on www.hri.ie.
“It’s going to be a hard race for him on his first run back.
“The season is starting to get on though and I’m anxious to get him out, so he will strip fitter as the season goes on.”
Joncol bids for further glory at the highest level following his victory in the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown three weeks ago.
“He’s been very well since the last day and has had no setbacks. We’re very hopeful and we’ll see if he has improved,” said trainer Paul Nolan.
“The ground won’t be as testing as what he’s run on so far. He has to take his chance and there will be no excuses.
“It’s a very good field, they have all declared bar one. It’s a very competitive race and we’ll see what he’s like.”
Jim Dreaper is hoping Notre Pere will recapture his best form after two disappointing runs in the JNwine.com Champion Chase and the Betfair Chase.
“It’s perfect chasing ground, it’s not ideal for him but we are anxious to get him out again to see if we can get him sparking,” said Dreaper.
“We are hoping for the best. Whatever happens, happens and we are looking forward to it.
“He’s been normal at home but he seemed that way before he went to Haydock too.”
Lexus Chase, Coral bet: 5-2 Joncol, 3-1 Notre Pere, 9-2 What A Friend, 11-2 Cooldine, 8-1 Voy Por Ustedes, 16-1 In Compliance, 18-1 Money Trix, Schindlers Hunt. 20-1 bar.