Jack Kennedy is confident testing conditions will hold no fears for Outlander in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.
The teenage riding sensation will make his first visit to the Merseyside venue to partner Gordon Elliott’s charge, who claimed his third Grade One success when bouncing back to form in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal earlier this month.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned nine-year-old had disappointed on his previous three starts, including in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, but Kennedy is hopeful he will put his best foot forward in this weekend’s feature event, which forms the first leg of the Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown, which carries a £1million bonus.
Kennedy told At The Races: “He was golden in Down Royal and all that rain won’t bother him.
“He’ll have to improve again probably, but he’s in good form.
“He lost his way a bit last year and never looked comfortable in the Gold Cup and he wasn’t jumping well at Punchestown on his first run back.”
“It’s my first ride at Haydock, so I’ll be over there in plenty of time.”
Outlander is part of a six-strong field and is the only Irish-trained contender following the expected withdrawal of Gold Cup hero Sizing John.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai is a warm order to follow up his victory in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby three weeks ago.
Colin Tizzard’s stable stalwart Cue Card fell in the Charlie Hall and will be partnered by Harry Cobden for the first time, as he bids to match Kauto Star’s record of four victories in the race.
Asked if he was feeling any pressure, Cobden told The Jockey Club’s Love The Jumps podcast: “No, no. I haven’t really thought about it too much. I’m just concentrating on riding the few that I am on at the moment and we’ll take it day by day really.”
On the prospect of matching Kauto Star’s achievement, he said: “It would be pretty good wouldn’t it?!
“It’s a shame I couldn’t ride him in his other three wins of the Betfair Chase, but obviously it’s a fantastic achievement for the horse and he’d go down as a real champion wouldn’t he?
“I’m looking forward to it and it would be lovely if it could happen.”
Tea For Two represents Nick Williams and Lizzie Kelly, while Richard Hobson’s Shantou Flyer and Traffic Fluide from Gary Moore’s stable complete the line-up.