Captain takes Sandown test
Barry Geraghty is convinced the step up to two and a half miles will suit Captain Conan at Sandown on Saturday.
He tackles the longer distance for the first time in the Betfred Mobile Lotto Challengers Novices' Chase.
The high-class novice hurdler has been hugely impressive in his two starts over fences to date, making a winning debut over the larger obstacles at Cheltenham in November before landing the Grade One Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown in December.
In any other season Nicky Henderson would surely be preparing his six-year-old for a tilt at the Arkle Trophy at next month's Cheltenham Festival, but with formidable stable companion Simonsig a red-hot favourite for the two-mile novice championship, the trainer is keen to find out if Captain Conan's stamina will last out over further.
If he does prove two and a half miles is within his compass this weekend, Cheltenham's Jewson Novices' Chase is likely to be his next port of call.
"I'm looking forward to riding him again and I honestly don't see the trip being a problem," said Geraghty.
"I know he's shown some very good form at two miles, but I actually think two and a half miles will turn out to be his best trip.
"I'd have no concerns about the ground. It was soft enough when he won the last day, so we'll see what happens."
Despite facing only three rivals in a race better known as the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase, Captain Conan will have to be on his game if he is to keep his unbeaten record over fences intact.
The Venetia Williams-trained Houblon Des Obeaux has already shown up well in Graded company this term, while Changing Times steps up in class for Nigel Twiston-Davies following back-to-back wins at Market Rasen and Taunton.
Colin Tizzard's Third Intention is another smart performer, but has been well held by Captain Conan twice already this season.