|Grade 1, Leopardstown 15:10
3m, Class 1
|Monday 28th December 2020|
Nicky Henderson has identified this Grade 1 as a likely Christmas target for Champ.
Last seen lunging late to claim a third win from four starts over fences in a thrilling renewal of the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, the JP McManus-owned eight-year-old is this season on the Gold Cup trail.
Champ could kick off his campaign at Aintree before a potential Irish trip.
“Champ is not quite as far forward as some,” said Henderson.
“We have just looked at his wind, but that is all sorted now – however, he is a little bit behind the others in the A-squad.
“I don’t think he will go to Sandown for the intermediate chase, and we aren’t that keen on the idea of the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury – and I don’t think Kempton is really his track either.
“The Many Clouds Chase at Aintree is a possibility, and there is a serious chance he could go to Ireland for the Savills Chase at Christmas – that is something we have mulled over.”
Leading Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Minella Indo will head for the Savills Chase next after registering his second victory of the season with another flawless display at Navan on November 22.
Last season's RSA runner-up was in a different league to his three rivals in the Grade 2 Make Your Best Bet Chase, obliging at a prohibitive 2-11 under Rachael Blackmore.
Prior to that the Henry de Bromhead-trained seven-year-old was a facile winner at Wexford on his seasonal comeback, but the trainer confirmed a sterner test awaits in the Grade 1 at Leopardstown on 28th December.
Christmas Steeplechase 2019
€150,000 added, 5yo plus, 3m, Class 1
Going: Yielding, Good in places
1 Delta Work 6 11-10 Gordon Elliott Jack Kennedy 11/2
2 hd Monalee 8 11-10 Henry De Bromhead Rachael Blackmore 8/1
2 2½ Road To Respect 8 11-10 Noel Meade Sean Flanagan 7/2
4 ¾ Kemboy 7 11-10 W P Mullins Paul Townend 7/4F
5 ½ Presenting Percy 8 11-10 Patrick G Kelly Davy Russell 7/2
6 8 Jett 8 11-10 Mrs John Harrington Robbie Power 40/1
7 12 Bellshill 9 11-10 W P Mullins Danny Mullins 20/1
8 41 Anibale Fly 9 11-10 A J Martin Barry Geraghty 16/1
NR 973-44 Balko Des Flos 8 11-10 Henry De Bromhead NON RUNNER