It’s all systems go for Fruity O’Rooney’s Skybet Chase raid after a fine third at Sandown on Saturday.
The West Sussex stayer finished behind the triumphant Katenko and Johns Spirit in the £50,000 32Red.com Handicap Chase in Surrey.
It was a superb performance from the 10-year-old, who was going right-handed for the first time since December 2011.
The son of Kahyasi was originally set to reappear at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day – only for the card to be abandoned.
He performed admirably when redirected to Sandown, though.
Fruity O’Rooney, trained by Gary Moore at Lower Beeding and sent off at 10/1, led until he was headed by the eventual winner four fences from home.
Despite carrying an extra 6lb, he chased Katenko until weakening at the end of the three-mile contest.
After a great effort in the Grade 3 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury back in December, the run has now put him on course for the Skybet Chase at Doncaster on January 26, before a return to the Cheltenham festival.
Last season Fruity O’Rooney finished third behind victor Calgary Bay and Shakalakaboomboom in the Listed contest.
It was a remarkable achievement given Jamie Moore’s saddle slipped and the jockey performed heroics simply to stay on board.
n Gary Moore narrowly missed out on a hat-trick at Plumpton on Sunday.
He saddled Well Refreshed and De Blacksmith to victory, while Vino Griego had to settle for a second place.