Andy Dufresne’s connections expect to find out if he is capable of mixing it at the highest level in the Underwriting Exchange Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.
Now in the care of Denise Foster while Gordon Elliott serves his suspension, the seven-year-old has always carried a tall home reputation since JP McManus paid £330,000 for him after winning a point-to-point.
A Grade Two hurdles winner, his future was always going to be as a chaser – and he had no trouble winning twice earlier in the season over bigger obstacles.
He was only third in the Flogas Novice Chase last time, but there was no disgrace in being beaten by 2022 Gold Cup favourite Monkfish and Irish National top weight Latest Exhibition.
McManus’ racing manager Frank Berry said: “He’s had a bit of a break, and he’s in good form. We hope he can run a good race.
“I’d say he’d be competitive over any trip. He’s not tied to the two-and-a-half – but it certainly should be fine, on this nice ground.
“He’s been very consistent and hasn’t ever run a bad race. Whether he’s up to this standard, we’ll find out on the day.
Of Andy Dufresne’s Leopardstown run, he added: “It was a respectable run. He definitely wasn’t quite in the same league as them (Monkfish and Latest Exhibition) – but having said that, he jumped well and ran well.”
McManus also has the Willie Mullins-trained Janidil in the field.
He was still in contention in the Leopardstown race when falling four from home – having chased home stablemate Colreevy, also a subsequent Cheltenham winner, prior to that.
“He’s been a bit disappointing. His jumping hasn’t been great,” said Berry.
“He’s done a lot of schooling since, and we hope he can put a good run together on Sunday.
“He won nicely the first time (over fences at Naas) – but he made a couple of mistakes and then had that fall.
“Willie’s very happy with him, though, so we’re hopeful.”
Mullins is also responsible for Asterion Forlonge, out again quickly having finished a five-length third to Chantry House in the Marsh Chase, and Franco De Port – who was last of five in the Arkle behind Shishkin.
Conflated, a stablemate of Andy Dufresne, represents Gigginstown House Stud – as does the Joseph O’Brien-trained mare Scarlet And Dove, who was giving Colreevy a race when falling at Thurles in January. She has won twice since.
“Scarlet And Dove has had a great season – winning three times over fences, including a Grade Three and a Grade Two novice chase in the space of eight days,” O’Brien told Betfair.
“This is obviously a tougher ask of her – but with a few of the big guns not running, we thought it was worth letting her take her chance against the boys. Finishing in the frame would be a good result.”