Old Roan Chase hero Conquisto could aim to continue his excellent start to the season in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday week.
The diminutive eight-year-old produced a superb display in the hands of Tony McCoy to claim Grade Two glory at Aintree late last month and has been assigned 11st 3lb for the Paddy Power on November 16 following the publication of the weights.
Trainer Steve Gollings said: “Conquisto has come out of the Old Roan 100% and I could not be happier with him.
“He is in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, but nothing is certain yet. We will assess the race at the next stage and take it from there, but other possibilities include the Amlin Chase at Ascot and the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon. It’s exciting stuff.
“He went up 4lb for winning at Aintree and I don’t know if it is a guilt thing with the handicapper, but he has been badly treated in the past and maybe it is evening itself out now.
“Conquisto still seems to be improving and I have said many times before that he lacks a bit of size, but he doesn’t think he is small and is a tremendous horse to train. For his diminutive size, he has so much scope but, for any horse of that stature, it is that much more difficult.
“He is a really tough, genuine horse and I don’t think we would be able to replace him. I think if he was a hand bigger, he would be a world beater.”
Finian’s Rainbow heads the weights for the £160,000 contest on 11st 12lb and is one of seven entries for champion trainer Nicky Henderson.
Among the septet is Grade One-winning novice Captain Conan (11st 8lb), Rajdhani Express (11st 4lb), winner of the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Festival in March, and last year’s third Nadiya De La Vega (10st 3lb).
David Pipe’s ante-post favourite Dynaste has been allotted 11st 8lb, having missed his intended reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last weekend.
Other contenders include Pipe’s Ballynagour (10st 6lb), Jonjo O’Neill’s Johns Spirit (10st 2lb) and the Paul Nicholls-trained Rolling Aces (11st 5lb).
The Irish challenge is led by Jewson Novices’ Chase winner Benefficient (11st 6lb).
Champion trainer Willie Mullins has four entries – Marito (10st 10lb), Terminal (10st 7lb), Rupert Lamb (10st 2lb) and Sweet My Lord (9st 8lb)
The five-day confirmation stage for the Paddy Power Gold Cup is on Monday, November 11. The maximum field size is 20, with 49 entries going forward at the moment.