Mengli Khan begins his quest towards the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival today, in the Download The BETDAQ App Beginners Chase at Punchestown.
Last season's Supreme Novice third - and best of the Irish brigade, takes to fences for the first time this afternoon, with as many as ten rivals to face, including Jessie Harrington's Forge Meadow, who will surely serve as the main danger having finished third on his chasing debut at Galway.
Trainer Gordon Elliott has watched on as both Lalor and Kalashnikov (second in the Supreme), have thrown down their credentials for the Grade 1 Novice showpiece on the first day of the Festival in March, with recent wins coincidentally at Cheltenham and Warwick respectively.
(Credit: Racing Post) Elliott said: "Mengli Khan has had a wind operation since you saw him last. His schooling has gone very well and I have been very happy with the way he has taken to fences.
"I am looking forward to getting him out and this looked a nice race to start him off in," he said.
Lalor won the Arkle trial two weeks ago at Prestbury Park for an emphatic but emotional victory for trainer Kayley Woollacott, whilst Kalashnikov began his chasing career with a smart success in the West Midlands, and will now head to Plumpton next Monday for his second start.
The 5yo, (Mengli Khan) - also owned by Gigginstown, did have some good fun over hurdles, including winning the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle in impressive fashion at Fairyhouse, before showing his quirky side when running out through the wings of the second last flight in the Grade 1 Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown - a race in which Willie Mullins duo Sharjah and Real Steel also both fell at the last hurdle.
Should Mengli Khan take this prize, it will be worth taking a look at the Arkle markets to see how the bookmakers price him. He will be a leading contender.