Noel Meade is “very hopeful” Road To Respect will stay the extended three and a quarter miles of the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.
The County Meath trainer was happy the way his horse finished the three miles at Leopardstown when winning the Christmas Chase, but knows it is the extra two and a half furlongs that makes all the difference.
“He stayed three miles well at Leopardstown in what was a good gallop. I know the last two and a half furlongs of the Gold Cup a lot of things change and some horses don’t actually stay,” Meade told Racing UK.
“I think it would be very foolish of me to say I think he’s cast iron to stay. I’m very hopeful he will, but I wouldn’t say any more than that.”
Meade would be concerned if conditions became testing and turned the race into a slog.,
“I wouldn’t worry about the weather with him as long as it didn’t get heavy,” he said.
“If it was heavy then I think it would become a big slog. I think reasonable soft ground would be OK.
“I think it’s a very open Gold Cup. Nicky’s (Henderson) horse (Might Bite) has been exceptional what he’s done.
“The rest of them – there are seven or eight horses there and it wouldn’t surprise anybody if any of them won.
“I just hope my horse keeps improving the way he seems to have been. He’s not a very difficult horse to train.”
One thing Meade is certain about is that Road To Respect goes to the Gold Cup at the top of his game.
“He’s in tremendous form. We’ve hit every button we’ve wanted to hit with him on the way here,” he said.
“He’s done everything we’ve wanted him to do and touch wood everything has gone right and he seems in terrific form.
“He’s travelling to Cheltenham on Monday. After that it’s just a case of keeping them fresh and getting used to the place.”