Oliver Greenall heaped praise on his training partner Josh Guerriero for picking out a valuable prize at Auteuil to enable Gesskille to begin his season in the best possible fashion.
Second in the Grand Sefton and the Becher Chase over the Grand National fences last term, those races could be on his agenda once more, with the National itself in April his main target if all goes well in the meantime.
Ridden by James Reveley, Gesskille gamely hung on to win by a short head at Auteuil and take home almost £50,000 in prize money.
“It was Josh who found the race. We know he loves it over there and there wasn’t really a lot for him over here until Aintree in November or the Cross Country in Cheltenham, so it worked out well,” said Greenall.
“I think the style of French racing and their fences suit him. That is normally a race for all of the horses that usually run in the Grand Steeple (-Chase de Paris) but none of them were running in it, so I don’t know if it was slightly less competitive for the grade than in the past.
“Over here it tends to be more competitive for less money but I think it’s a combination of the fact the race suited, he didn’t have much weight and some others in the race were possibly out of form. We also had James, which makes a massive difference.
“I think it will be either the Grand Sefton, the Cross Country or there’s a race in December over the same trip, he just wouldn’t want it really soft so we always have to bear that in mind.
“The Grand National would have to be his target if he keeps running well.”
Greenall and Guerriero celebrated their first Cheltenham Festival victory in March when the JP McManus-owned Iroku won the Martin Pipe and went on to be third in a Grade One at Aintree over three miles.
“Iroku has done very well over the summer, he’s just upping his work now and he’s looking good,” said Greenall.
“He’s going chasing November time, whether he goes to the Charlie Hall meeting at Wetherby or a race at Carlisle, he’s got a few options.
“Hopefully there’s more to come, we always felt he’d be better over fences and we know he stays three miles now. If he’d run over that trip before Aintree, we’d have made more use of him but it was hard doing it for the first time.”