Presenting Percy made his eagerly-anticipated seasonal bow a winning one at Gowran Park and, in the words of his owner, “just put down his marker” for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The Pat Kelly-trained eight-year-old is now the 3/1 clear favourite with Betfred for the showpiece race in March after his impressive comeback win.
Presenting Percy hadn’t been sighted on track since he won the RSA Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival, his second successive Cotswolds win following a Pertemps Final victory in 2017.
Connections were forced into a patient approach this season as a result of the unseasonably dry winter in Ireland, with targets like the John Durkan Memorial and the Savills Chase bypassed.
Presenting Percy proved to be worth the wait as he made smooth progress before fending off the likes of Bapaume, Killultagh Vic and Limini to win the Grade Two three-mile contest over hurdles for the second year running.
He is set to come back to Gowran Park next month for the Red Mills Chase to complete preparations for the big day in Cheltenham on March 15.
“We’ve been trying to look after this horse to give him every chance to get him to the big day, where we all know we want to be, in March,” said owner Philip Reynolds.
“We’ve been very patient. I sent back the horse to Pat in early August and we really were expecting that we’d have had as many runs coming here (as last year).
“I know people were wondering whether we’d actually retired him!”
Reynolds felt Presenting Percy had given a declaration of intent with his winning return and that he can now be justifiably viewed as favourite for Gold Cup glory, something his owner wasn’t too sure of previously.
He added: “I know the reason people have said he was 4/1 was that other horses out there have fluffed their lines, but there are two decent horses out there in Kemboy and Clan Des Obeaux.
“I thought they deserved to be a lot shorter in the market than Percy was before [this], but maybe he’s just put down his marker.”
Kempton’s King George hero Clan Des Obeaux and Savills Chase winner Kemboy both trade at 7/1 with Betfred to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with reigning champion Native River priced at 5/1.
Odds subject to change.