Barry Geraghty expects 'proper test' at Cheltenham for More Of That
Barry Geraghty has been pleased with what he has seen from More Of That ahead of his fencing debut in the Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase at Cheltenham on Friday.
Jonjo O'Neill's seven-year-old was one of the brightest stars in the National Hunt game when he maintained his unbeaten record in the 2014 World Hurdle at the Festival, inflicting a first defeat on Annie Power in the process.
Since then, however, he has only been seen once, when he was never a factor on his return to action at Newbury last November.
A breathing problem was found, and subsequently operated on, and Geraghty, who partnered More Of That in the World Hurdle, again gets the ride in his new role as JP McManus' retained rider.
"I'm really looking forward to it," he said.
"I've been in to school him a few times and it's been a case of so far, so good.
"It looks a good race in its own right and Cheltenham is always a proper test for a novice, especially first time out.
"We want to learn about him, though, especially after what happened last season, and this will be a proper test.
"We've been pleased with him so far, anyway."
The race has a rich history as it has produced two Gold Cup winners in Denman and Imperial Commander in recent times, as well as classy types like Dynaste, Grands Crus and Time For Rupert.
Ian Williams won the race in 2009 with Weird Al and runs Ballyalton, second to Faugheen at the Festival two season ago but off for all of last term.
He unseated his rider on his chasing debut at Warwick recently.
"We know what it takes to win this, having done so with Weird Al, but it does look a very hot renewal," said Williams.
"It was a little unfortunate what happened at Warwick but he came out of it well and we viewed this as a good opportunity to get some more experience into him.
"He departed just before the business end of the race but was closing in.
"What seemed obvious, though, was that his year off just seemed to have dented his speed a little.
"The fizz he had over hurdles wasn't quite the same, so this step up to two and a half miles should suit him perfectly. In time I expect him to be running over three (miles)."
David Pipe runs Dell' Arca, a second-season novice who finished fourth in this 12 months ago and who finally opened his account over fences at Uttoxeter in May.
"He's a good horse who always runs in the good races," said Pipe.
"We were happy with him at Uttoxeter and we've been happy with him since.
"It's a small but select field and if More Of That comes back to form he's the one we've got to beat."
As De Mee, Might Bite, Double Shuffle and The Society Man complete the line-up.