ED Dunlop will see how Yorkshire Cup hero Red Cadeaux copes with the British winter before deciding whether to prepare his globetrotter for another potentially lucrative overseas trip.
The Newmarket trainer is considering the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan for the six-year-old gelding after he registered a first Group One success in the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin on Sunday thanks to an inspired ride by France-based Gerald Mosse.
However, Red Cadeaux has been used to the warmer climes of the southern hemisphere for the last nine weeks with races in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong after beginning the campaign with an impressive victory at York’s Dante meeting in May.
Dunlop fears the cold British weather will be a shock to the ultra-competitive Red Cadeaux’s system when the chestnut gelding finally returns home on Thursday.
“I’m a little concerned having been in the southern hemisphere for so long and he comes back to this weather we have here, which is going to get worse everyone tells us,” said the trainer after being compensated for stable star Snow Fairy’s recently disqualification from the Group Prix Jean Romanet in Deauville after testing positive for a prohibited medication.
“It will be a bit of a culture shock for him when he returns to us on Thursday. We will see how he copes with it.
“We’ve got a stable with heat lamps, which we will use, and see. He will be entered in the Sheema Classic and possibly the staying race. The horse keeps improving, he enjoys his racing and keeps being competitive. He has to run in all the big races now.”
The Ferdy Murphy-trained pair of De Boitron and Divers are Yorkshire’s two entries in the Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Challenge Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.
The likelihood, given the forecast soft ground, is that De Boitron will take his chance while Divers – victorious at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival – may take up an entry at Doncaster on the same day.
The preliminary 23-runner Cheltenham field is headed by the ever popular Hunt Ball who could use the race as a warm-up for Kempton’s King George VI Chase on Boxing Day. He was pulled up by jockey Nick Scholfield during last month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup, a contest that saw Divers withdrawn on the morning of the race because of unsuitably heavy ground, but owner Anthony Knott is keen to persevere.
The West Country farmer said: “If we get better ground you will see a proper horse. He could do with a blow-out ahead of the King George and if he ran into the frame, I’d be well pleased.”
Grands Crus’s part-owner Roger Stanley maintains no hasty decisions will be taken over the grey’s participation in the King George.
The seven-year-old has undergone a wind operation after finishing a well-beaten fourth behind Bobs Worth in the RSA Chase before being pulled up by Tom Scudamore in the Paddy Power last month.
The Kempton test might come too soon for the horse who featured in some epic battles with the legendary Big Buck’s before switching to the larger obstacles.
“I don’t think he’s in full swing yet, but he’s very well,” said Stanley. “He’s obviously fit, but we want to see the real Grands Crus come back.”
Grands Crus had beaten both Bobs Worth, the subsequent winner of the Hennessy, and Betfair and Charlie Hall Chase hero Silviniaco Conti in the Feltham Chase at Kempton last Christmas.
“It’s testament to the novices of last year that they have done so well and we want to be part of it, but he won’t run if he’s less than 100 per cent,” added Stanley.
Like the connections of Grands Crus, trainer Donald McCain has not lost any faith in Cinders And Ashes despite his hurdler being beaten by the Malton-trained Countrywide Flame in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle 10 days ago.
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner was never travelling fluently in the conditions for Jason Maguire and was well beaten by John Quinn’s Triumph Hurdle hero. It was a rare reversal for the in-form McCain, who will send Cinders And Ashes to the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
“Look, he’s been beaten but to my eye he was hating every minute of it on the ground and I think he probably did well to get as close as he did,” he said.
Looking further ahead, trainer Peter Casey has no doubt three miles is well within Flemenstar’s range following his fantastic performance at Punchestown when the seven-year-old oozed class in defeating the previously unbeaten chaser Sir Des Champs in the John Durkan Chase. Casey is looking forward to seeing his pride and joy test himself over three miles for the first time in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28, with the ultimate target being the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The one doubt is Flemenstar’s stamina – the Gold Cup is run over an undulating three and a quarter miles with a stamina-sapping uphill finish – but County Meath-based Casey is bullish after reporting his horse had come out of the John Durkan race in fine fettle.
“We have another big day coming up at Christmas. That will be his first run over three miles and it will tell us a lot more,” he said.