Trainer Tony Martin believes the drying conditions will play to the strengths of Benefficient in today’s Ryanair Chase.
The eight-year-old won the Jewson Novices’ Chase at the Festival 12 months ago and was last sighted claiming further Grade One honours at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Benefficient steps up to the intermediate distance of two miles and five furlongs in the Ryanair, but Martin believes that will not be an issue.
The County Meath handler said: “Prior to Cheltenham last year he was caught on the line over three miles at Newbury by Harry Topper and since then he has learned to relax and is a lot more settled in himself so I see no problem with the two-five. I think ground is a big factor, too. He’s a far better horse on better ground.”
The David Pipe-trained Dynaste was second to Benefficient in the Jewson, but has been in rehabilitation since a disappointing run in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Pipe said: “He ran a cracking race first time out in the Betfair at Haydock, but then disappointed in the King George.
“He came back from there wrong behind, he’d pulled muscles and it took a long time to get him right, but thankfully he’s in good form at present. He’s worked nicely and has been in good order. Hopefully, he can run a good race.”
Tactics could be key – Tom Scudamore probably hit the front too soon 12 months ago on Dynaste and was a sitting target for Benefficient.
However, Paul Nicholls says Al Ferof, the 2011 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner and third in the King George, is “in seriously good order” and should not be discounted. He feels the Ryanair is an ideal target for the nine-year-old grey, who took second spot behind Harry Topper in a heavy-ground Denman Chase at Newbury in February.