Jockey Harry Cobden believes multiple Grade One winner Politologue still has the “fire in his belly” ahead of his attempt to break through the £1million prize money barrier in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday.
The Grade Two contest has been sponsored since 2011 by Shloer, which has now extended its association with the race for a further three years to include the 2023 running.
And while Henry de Bromhead’s Put The Kettle On will be looking to repeat her victory last year, the Paul Nicholls-trained Politologue will attempt to score first time out for the fifth time in his career.
Despite failing to feature at Aintree in April in the Grade One Marsh Chase, which he claimed in 2019, the John Hales-owned gelding is reported to be showing plenty of enthusiasm according to Cobden, having impressed in a recent schooling session.
The rider explained: “I’m absolutely delighted to be back on board him. I schooled him on Tuesday and he is in fantastic form and he jumped really well.
“It seems to me that he still has the fire in his belly. I’m very excited and looking forward to the weekend.
“He has been a fantastic horse for the yard and he is just shy of winning a million pounds in prize money, having won over £990,000.
“He has had a great preparation and hopefully we haven’t left any stones unturned and he is ready to roll.”
While respecting the chances of Put The Kettle On, who landed the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, Cobden actually rates the Dan Skelton-trained Nube Negra as their biggest danger.
He added: “I don’t think there will be many runners but those that will be running are going to be quality horses.
“Put The Kettle on needs no introduction as she is last season’s Champion Chase winner but I think Nube Negra is probably the main danger going into the race.
“He was a bit unlucky at The Festival last season – he didn’t have the gaps turning in and he will really appreciate the decent ground.
“Politologue has been a champion really and has turned up everywhere for the last five or six years.”
Cobden may now be seen among the weighing room’s elite riders but he will always be thankful to Politologue, who is one of two runners in the race for Nicholls alongside Rouge Vif, for helping establish his career during his early years in the saddle.
He said: “I suppose he was my second big Saturday Grade One winner after Irving when he won the Tingle Creek as I was still a teenager at the time. He really helped put me on the map and has played a big part in my career.
“The two miles around Cheltenham is one we all look forward to and especially on a horse like him who, touch wood, is such a safe jumper. He is a horse that is close to my heart given what he has done in the past as well.”
Meanwhile Ian Renton, The Jockey Club’s Managing Director for Cheltenham and the West Region, thanked Shloer for extending their sponsorship of the Grade Two race, which was claimed by dual Champion Chase hero Sprinter Sacre in 2015.
He said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Shloer for their continued support of a race which is well established as one of the highlights of our November Meeting here at Cheltenham.
“We’ve worked closely with the Shloer team since this partnership began in 2011 and look forward to that continuing for the next three years.
“We’re also eagerly anticipating what looks like being yet another fantastic renewal of the race this weekend.”