Kim Bailey plans to work back from an outing in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup with Vinndication.
The Andoversford handler believes the seven-year-old is capable of competing against the best staying chasers on a regular basis, after finding only Cyrname too strong on his return in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on Saturday.
Although Vinndication – a general 40-1 shot for the prestigious Grade One at the Cheltenham Festival in March – needs to take another step forward on official ratings, Bailey is confident he can make the required progression.
Bailey said: “I was delighted with his run at Wetherby. He slipped into the first fence, and it took a while to get his jumping back, but I was very happy with the horse.
“The ground wasn’t ideal up there, because it was pretty soft, but it confirmed in my mind that he is good enough to run in a Gold Cup – and I think we will be working back from that.
“Wetherby is two long straights with two tight bends. It is only just three miles, and all he was doing was finishing to good effect, so the Gold Cup trip of three and a quarter miles will be much more his distance.”
While delighted with Vinndication’s seasonal bow, Bailey had plenty of admiration for his Wetherby conqueror Cyrname – who was claiming his first victory since defeating Altior in a Grade Two at Ascot last November.
He added: “It was a very good performance by Cyrname, and I take my hat off to him.
“It was a brave shout by Paul Nicholls to do what he did, but that is why he has been champion trainer so many times.”
Bailey, who won the Gold Cup in 1995 with Master Oats, has not ruled out returning to handicap company with Vinndication for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury later this month.
He added: “He will have entries in all the big races like the King George, but I would say that the Betfair Chase at Haydock might just come too soon.
“He is in the Ladbrokes Trophy, and that could be an option, but I’m not saying he is going there for definite. It will be interesting to see how the handicapper assesses it.”