RSA Chase runner-up Whisper did not beat sole opponent Clan Des Obeaux with anything like the authority that the figures suggested he might in Kempton's 2m4f graduation chase on Monday, but he remains firmly on course for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on December 2.
Whisper – who remains a 12-1 chance with the sponsor for the Newbury showpiece – is officially rated 9lb superior to Clan Des Obeaux, who made a race of it and went down by only half a length despite pitching on landing over the last, but the 3m2f trip of the former Hennessy Gold Cup will present a very different test for the nine-year-old.
Trainer Nicky Henderson was not too perturbed at Whisper having to work for his win, although he did seem surprised to hear that success here incurred a 4lb penalty, taking his Newbury weight to 11st 8lb.
Henderson said: "He needed that and it will straighten him up for the Ladbrokes Trophy. We know he stays well and that was two and a half miles on a speed track. Newbury is three and a bit [miles], and he proved at Cheltenham that he stays a good three miles at a right good gallop."
Whisper's jumping will need to be slicker if he is to win a race like the Ladbrokes Trophy, but jockey Davy Russell believes a stronger pace will suit in that respect.
Henderson revealed: "Davy says he wants to be going as quick as you can go, in which case he can fire him into the fences. He was leaving his hind legs behind a little bit, but only because they were going steady."
Paul Nicholls has one eye on the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham for Clan Des Obeaux, who delighted his trainer.
Nicholls said: "I'm thrilled with him. He's done really well and was only beaten half a length after landing in a heap over the last. He lost his way last season and didn't jump well, but we did his wind and he was really good here.
"That was a very good effort at the weights and he could go for the December Gold Cup, which we won with Frodon last year, although I suppose he could go for another graduation chase now he hasn't won here."