Bravemansgame© Photo Healy Racing
Daryl Jacob has been handed the plum spare ride aboard Bravemansgame in the Betfair Chase, with Paul Nicholls confirming his Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up is likely to line up at Haydock on Saturday.
Nicholls had indicated the Grade One contest was a possibility for his star stayer following his reappearance second in the Charlie Hall and if conditions are suitably dry throughout the week, it appears the eight-year-old will travel to Merseyside en route to the King George at Kempton.
With Bravemansgame’s usual rider Harry Cobden set to be in action at Ascot, it is an opportunity for Jacob to add to the three Betfair Chase victories he secured aboard Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Bristol De Mai.
It also represents a return to the fold at Ditcheat for the 40-year-old, with Jacob once stable jockey to the champion trainer, riding Cheltenham Festival winners aboard Zarkandar and Lac Fontana.
Speaking to Betfair, Nicholls said: “An update for everybody. He schooled this morning nicely. Daryl Jacob rode him. He runs on Saturday.
“Daryl’s going to ride him, you know. He’s got all the experience in the world. He rides out a little bit here, so he got on great with him this morning.
“We’ve confirmed him this morning, and we’re just going to monitor the ground during the week. If it was heavy, he definitely won’t run, but I’m encouraged by the weather forecast. Looks like it’s drying up.”
Bravemansgame is one of six confirmations for the first Grade One of the UK season.
Nicky Henderson had spoken all summer of targeting Shishkin at the race, with the King George VI Chase his main aim in the first half of the season, although he now has an alternative option in the 1965 Chase at Ascot.
Last year’s winner Protektorat has had the race as his big target and will attempt to join the likes of Kauto Star and Cue Card as a multiple Betfair Chase winner.
Grand National hero Corach Rambler has been left in by Lucinda Russell but he will need to take a huge step forward from his seasonal reappearance at Kelso.
Royale Pagaille (Venetia Williams) and Minella Drama (Donald McCain) may also run.