L’Ami Serge faces just two rivals as he makes his seasonal debut in the 188Bet Graduation Chase at Exeter on Thursday.
The six-year-old had a decent first campaign, winning his first two starts in ordinary company before giving a good account of himself at the top level at Cheltenham and Aintree.
Connections of the Nicky Henderson-trained gelding are hoping this performance will give them a guide as to where to aim him for the rest of the campaign.
“He’s been going nicely just recently and we are ready to get him going,” said Anthony Bromley, racing manager to owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.
“He was in a tricky position because he’s rated 153 and would be top weight in a handicap.
“It’s great they have these graduation chases. I know they don’t get big fields, but it’s a tough season after their novice year.
“It’s nice it is a small field for his first run of the season.
“It would be lovely to think he might develop into a Ryanair or a Champion Chase horse, but he’s clearly got to improve another stone to do that.
“This is a good starting point and we’re pleased with how he’s going.”
One of L’Ami Serge’s rivals is the Paul Nicholls-trained Le Prezien, who Bromley was associated with last year through former owners, the Million In Mind Partnership.
The five-year-old now sports the colours of JP McManus after being sold at the Goffs UK Sales in Doncaster for £290,000 in May.
“Obviously Le Prezien will be a fair test. He’s a good horse. I know him very well as he was a Million In Mind horse last season for us and was a Grade One horse for the syndicate,” said Bromley.
“The race is equi distant. It’s two mile one and a half, so it gives us the option of going back to two miles or up to two and a half.
“That’s a little up in the air. The race will give us an idea what the route map will be for the rest of the season.”