Captain Conan Stepping Up for Jewson Challenge
Nicky Henderson's Captain Conan will attempt two and a half miles over fences for the first time on Saturday, February 2, when he lines up in the Betfred Mobile Lotto Challengers Novices' Chase at Sandown.
With stablemate Simonsig taking top billing in this year's two-mile Racing Post Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Henderson is looking to the Jewson Novices' Chase for Captain Conan, and is keen to determine whether he can prove his stamina over the longer trip.
The high-class novice hurdler has made an impressive start to his chasing career with comfortable victories in a Grade Two at Cheltenham and a Grade One at Sandown in December.
The bookies appear to be in no doubt which race Captain Conan is heading for at The Festival and the Cheltenham odds at Ladbrokes make him the 4/1 favourite for the Jewson.
Stable jockey Barry Geraghty said:
"I'm looking forward to riding him again and I honestly don't see the trip being a problem. I know he's shown some very good form at two miles, but I actually think two and a half miles will turn out to be his best trip. I'd have no concerns about the ground - it was soft enough when he won the last day," said Geraghty.
Despite facing only three rivals in a race better known as the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase, Captain Conan will have to be on his game if he is to keep his unbeaten record over fences intact.
The Venetia Williams-trained Houblon Des Obeaux has already shown up well in Graded company this term, while Changing Times steps up in class for Nigel Twiston-Davies following back-to-back wins at Market Rasen and Taunton.
Colin Tizzard's Third Intention is another smart performer, but has been well held by Captain Conan twice already this season.
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