David Bridgwater has confirmed The Conditional an intended runner in the rescheduled Denman Chase at Newbury next weekend, ahead of a likely return to the Cheltenham Festival.
The nine-year-old claimed a narrow victory in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the showpiece meeting last season and has run two sound races in defeat so far this term – finishing third in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury and second in the Silver Cup at Ascot.
While the weather has disrupted running plans since the turn of the year, Bridgwater reports his stable star to be in rude health as he prepares to clash with dual King George hero Clan Des Obeaux and the exciting Champ.
He said: “He’ll be going to Newbury next weekend, all being well. There’s not many races left for him really, so he’ll be entered again and we’ll try again.
“The horse is in fantastic order, but he’ll need to be.
“He was going to go to Cheltenham for the Cotswold Chase at the end of January, but when it got moved to Sandown last Saturday I didn’t want to run because I’m not sure he wants to go right-handed.
“He went to Ascot and didn’t really like that, so I didn’t think he’d like Sandown.”
Bridgwater expects to have a clearer idea after The Conditional’s run at Newbury as to whether his entry in the Cheltenham Gold Cup is realistic or not, adding: “If you’re not in, you ain’t got the choice.
“Some of the Gold Cup horses have been bombing out and disappointing. If some of them bomb out on the big day, it would give you a chance of nicking a bit of prize-money.
“There’s some good Irish horses, but if it was just the English horses in the race, I’d fancy us to be placed.
“He’s in the Gold Cup, he’s in the Grand National and he’ll be entered for the same race he won at the Festival last year as well.
“We’ll either be going to be back to that race, which would be great, or if he overperforms on Sunday, then we might look at the Gold Cup, which would be the owner’s dream.”