For Harry Cobden it was the moment a jockey dreads. The horse’s stride shortens and what was seemingly effortless seconds previously becomes laboured as the prize falls from reach with the rider left powerless.

Stamina is an intangible, unquantifiable quality that is tested to its limits in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Pendil, Wayward Lad and One Man were the class acts of their respective eras who won the King George VI Chase at Kempton with a style that separates the very best from the rest. But the three miles, two-and-a-half furlongs of the Gold Cup, and especially the punishing final climb to the winning post, separated them from those who won both races.

Clan des Obeaux has already won two King Georges but could finish only fifth in last year’s Gold Cup.

“Native River and Might Bite didn’t do us any favours last year going that quick early on. It turned it into a stamina test and sucked a load of the class out of him,” Cobden recalled of the last half mile. “Coming down the hill I wasn’t sure how much I had. We by-passed the third-last [fence] and he lit up so I thought ‘we’re in business here’.

“He jumped two out well but just didn’t have the legs to get up the hill. You could feel him starting to curl up underneath you.”

Twelve months on Clan des Obeaux is an eight-year-old, arguably at his physical peak, and his trainer, Paul Nicholls, has taken a single-minded, single-race approach by not running the horse again since the King George.

The plan is to ride more of a waiting race in the Gold Cup which has shaped up to be a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, with Cobden hoping patience and an absence of an obvious front runner could be key for him.

“It’s a very open race and you can make a case for five or six horses,” Cobden said. “I’d say Bristol de Mai might bowl along and Kemboy might do as well, he made all round Aintree last year, and the others will be sat behind.

“Our horse looks stronger and better this year and I believe he does stay. I wouldn’t swap him for anything. I’m just going to be a little bit more conservative in how I ride him, not be quite so forward early on and I’m just hoping we don’t go so fast.”

The theory was that speed might not be one of Solo’s strengths. But he looked fast enough at Kempton last month and is a big player for the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

“I only sat on him one day before he ran at Kempton,” Cobden said. “I jumped 20 hurdles on him in Paul’s small school. I’d never ridden him on the gallops but Claude Charlet, the bloodstock agent, said he was one of the best he’s bought.”

Any suggestion that was a sales pitch were dispelled as Solo lived up to his name, pulling clear to win by 13 lengths.

“Kempton’s a bit of a speed track, different to what he’d done before in France,” Cobden said. “Paul said to me beforehand ‘he’s not the fastest in the world but he’s a galloper’. The plan was just to sit upsides in front and not turn it into a sprint. I was just impressed with the way he travelled and did it all so easily.

“The way he floated around there it was so effortless for him and he’s just bounded clear up the straight. He’s jumped great, travelled great, not keen and got a great mind on him. He’s just what you want in these young horses. It would be great if I could get a lead going to the last.”

Jumping the last clear of the rest of the field and galloping to the line. The moment a jockey dreams about.