Joseph O’Brien’s English invasion paid dividends as his National Hunt star Fakir D’oudairies landed the Grade 1 Ascot Chase in Berkshire on Saturday afternoon, remaining a sizeable 14/1 in some places for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
The 7-year-old finished second in last year’s renewal behind Allaho, who has beat him twice already this campaign, but he has solid Prestbury Park form and looks a huge each-way punt should he be back on the ferry in March.
Elsewhere on the card, Does He Know moved into favourtism for the Ultima as he surged to a 14-length demolition job in the Reynoldstown under David Bass for trainer Kim Bailey, with connections bidding to go one better in this race than last year.
There hasn't been an Irish winner of the race since 2007 as Bailey chases his second win at the Festival in three years.
At Haydock Park, Porticello easily returned at odds of 10/300 but didn't make a sufficient dent in the Irish contenders for the Triumph, remaining fourth in the market but shortening a notch to 12/1.
Cheltenham winner Hillcrest may also feature on the Friday at the Festival after his bloodless win in Lancashire, meaning he has now won his last 5 when remaining on his feet.
Meanwhile, the Champion Hurdle took a slight twinge as Gordon Elliot's impressive Teahupoo scored for the third time this campaign at Gowran Park to become a general 10/1 shot for Tuesday's championship contest.
Greatwood Hurdle second Adagio remains unaltered at 16/1 after a creditable second to Goshen in the Kingwell at Wincanton.