Leading National Hunt jockey Denis O’Regan believes Argento Chase winner Cape Tribulation will be seen in even better light back on quicker ground.
Newmarket-based O’Regan produced one of the rides of the season aboard the Malcom Jefferson-trained gelding to land the Grade Two contest in testing conditions at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Holding the nine year old up for much of the three-mile-one-furlong contest, O’Regan delivered the former Cheltenham Festival winner with a perfectly-timed late run to foil long-time leader Imperial Commander by half a length.
“Cape Tribulation loves Cheltenham and he was superb on Saturday,” said O’Regan. “The idea was to leave it as late as possible on and to be fair he has battled it out well in the conditions. He will be even better on faster ground.”
Having landed the Grade Three Betfair Don’t Settle For Less Rowland Meryick Chase at Wetherby on his penultimate outing, it now means that Cape Tribulation’s only disappointment this campaign has come during his seasonal reappearance when finishing fifth in the Grade Two John Smith’s West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby in November.
But O’Regan has claimed excuses can be made for a below-par performance that day.
“Cape Tribulation has only run badly once this season and that was in his first race,” said O’Regan. “He had a hard race on the Flat not long before that race and that left its mark on him.
“He really is on a roll now having won his last two races and he is improving all the time and for a nine year old he is really getting his act together now.
Bookmakers reacted to Cape Tribulation’s win on Saturday with many trimming his odds for this year’s Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup from 100-1 down to 25-1 for the blue riband contest in March.
“I am not going to say Cape Tribulation will win the Gold Cup, but he is likely to take his chance in it,” said O’Regan.
“He has got around 10lb to 15lb of improvement to find with some of the leading runners but he is a horse who is on the up.”