Paul Nicholls is in confident mood as stable stars Cyrname and Frodon prepare for their first test of the new season on either side of the Irish Sea.
Cyrname, the former highest-rated chaser, heads to Wetherby on Saturday to defend his Charlie Hall Chase title.
Frodon starts his campaign off with a trip to Down Royal for the Grade One Ladbrokes Champion Chase, where potential rivals include Gold Cup winner Minella Indo and National Hunt Chase champion Galvin.
On Cyrname, who was pulled up on his next two starts after last year’s victory in the Charlie Hall, Nicholls told Sky Sports Racing: “He’s very well and looks fantastic. He jumped well yesterday [Monday] morning and is always great at this time of year. We’re really looking forward to him running on Saturday.
“He’s very good fresh, it’s the same every year. It seems to be after that when he falls apart a little bit.
“I’d be more confident that you’d get a great run from him first time out.
“He’s much more relaxed now and you can ride him accordingly. It’s a totally different ball game.”
For Frodon, Nicholls has already lined up a repeat bid to win Boxing Day’s King George VI Chase, but the champion trainer insists he heads to Ireland fully tuned up for the contest.
“He goes on his way [to Ireland] on Thursday and is in good shape,” Nicholls said.
“The Gold Cup winner [Minella Indo] and Galvin look the main ones to beat, but Down Royal is a long way from the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
“Frodon is good fresh so we’re looking forward to it. When you go for those races they are going to be ready, there’s no point going there needing a run.
“He [Frodon] has been away and had a racecourse gallop and he’s ready.”
On a busy Saturday for the team from Ditcheat, Nicholls could also send a number of hopefuls to Ascot, live on Sky Sports Racing.
Among his best chances is likely to be Solo, who makes his chasing debut in the Ascot Underwriting Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (1.35).
“He’s going to Ascot and seems to have strengthened up,” Nicholls said.
“He’s by Kapgarde who has sired chasers mostly. It was like that with Pic D’Orhy, lots was expected of them so young. Solo is still only five-years-old and he’s needed all that time to fill his frame.
“Sometimes those horses fall apart in their four-year-old career. Hopefully he’s on a nice mark now at 135, down from 157. He’s in good shape.”