Cheltenham options open for Benefficient, according to trainer Tony Martin
Last Updated: 16/02/14 12:10pm
Connections of Benefficient celebrate at last year's Festival
Tony Martin says that soft ground could yet steer Benefficient towards the Champion Chase rather than the Ryanair.
Outright favourite with some firms for the Ryanair Chase, should the ground still be soft or heavy at Cheltenham for the Festival then a tilt at the two-mile BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase could be the direction connections decide to take.
Winner of the Jewson Novices' Chase at the meeting last March (now the JLT), Benefficient has only had two runs this season, when fourth over three miles in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby before winning the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase over an extended two miles at Christmas, beating Hidden Cyclone and Arvika Ligeonniere.
"He'll go straight to the Festival," said Martin. "He's still in the Champion Chase, but the Ryanair is favourite at this stage.
"We'll just see what the declarations are like and see what the ground is like nearer the time. If it's soft I wouldn't rule out the Champion Chase.
"I suppose a lot depends on Sprinter Sacre and if he runs in the Queen Mother, but if it was soft or heavy we'd have to seriously think about it.
"It was a really good run the last day and he won at the Festival last year, so we know he likes the place."