French raider Master Dino was applauded across the line by the racegoing crowds at Plumpton after he put up a hugely impressive display in winning the ‘Follow At The Races On Twitter Novices' Chase’ at the Sussex track on Sunday.
The Guillaume Macaire-trained five-year-old took care of the Gary Moore-trained Knocknanuss to take his career prize money to £656,927 and put him right into the middle of the conversation around the Novice Chases at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
He’s now a 9-2 favourite for the JLT from 12-1 for owners Isaac Souede and Simon Munir.
Macaire, who re-established his relationship with jockey Daryl Jacob, who rode for him on summer assignments in previous years, was chipper in the aftermath of his inmate’s success.
"I'm very pleased, because it was a test today - he doesn't speak English, only French!" he said.
"He's learning, but it's the first time for him.
"The ground is rarely deep at Cheltenham, so this experience will be very useful - because he's shown he's able to follow a good pace but also has stamina.
"He stays, and was not tired at all after the race - which is a good sign."
"In my opinion, the Arkle could be too fast for him. He used to be a bit keen at home, but I've worked a lot on relaxing him - so now he won't understand if we ask him to do that.
"We've worked many months to have a horse able to manage his potential himself - so it would be silly to try to do the reverse.
"I will enter him anyway in the Arkle, but the target is the middle distance. That's the logical (step)."
The Grade One Scilly Isles Chase, a favoured target of connections, looks set to be his next target, before a trip to Cheltenham. He’s eligible for a £60,000 bonus should he go on to win at the festival, as part of a scheme run by Plumpton.
A genuine JLT contender?