Nicky Henderson has an all powerful stable this season to go to war with and he can now add the name of Captain Conan to his army of exciting novice chasers. The Tolworth Hurdle winner from last season has long been touted as a star chaser and that certainly looked the case over the weekend as he made his debut over the big obstacles. Connections were delighted with his win in the Arkle Trial at the Open Meeting at Cheltenham as he produced a flawless round of jumping to put himself right towards the betting for the Arkle Chase itself at the Festival. Henderson deliberately kept Captain Conan away from the festival last season with the idea of keeping for a chasing career and already that is looking like a cracking decision. He relished the testing ground on Sunday as he jumped round to win as he liked and he has to be a major player for the Festival if he continues to improve as expected.
Henderson will be looking to win the Arkle Chase for the second year on the bounce after the success of Sprinter Sacre last season and few would be surprised if he did just that. As well as Captain Conan, the Seven Barrows trainer will also be aiming Simonsig at the Arkle and many consider him to be the better of thew two horses. Simonsig dotted up to win the Neptune Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last season and he too is expected to be well suited to a chasing career this winter. Henderson seems happy for the two horses to clash in the Arkle with the market currently suggesting that Simonsig is the horse with the greater potential. Captain Conan is clearly a major contender though and the bookmakers were impressed enough to shorten him to 7/1 from 10/1 for the big race following his latest win with stable mate Simonsig still a warm order at around the 3/1 mark.