RSA Chase favourite Champ will have to head straight to the festival off the back of a fall as his plans to run at Kelso on Thursday have been foiled due to the on going storms in Great Britain.
The Nicky Henderson trained eight year old was a superb hurdler last season having four runs and winning three of them and only getting beat in a thriller at the Cheltenham festival in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle.
Champ started his season at Newbury in a 15 runner Class 2 Handicap Hurdle where he looked a class above the field that included some smart runners.
He went back to Newbury for his first taste of Grade One company and stayed on the best to take the Challow Novices Hurdle and be primed for a crack at the Ballymore at the festival.
He could only manage a narrow second to Irish raider City Island who stayed on better up the hill to take the spoils but it was still a highly credible run from Henderson's horses.
He finished off his season in superb style by picking up his second Grade One over hurdles in the Doom Bar Sefton Novices Hurdle at the Grand National meeting.
Champ was bought to be a chaser over three miles and anything he did over hurdles was a bonus according to his owner JP McManus and this term he has shown plenty of ability.
He raced at Newbury twice winning both his events nicely with his seasonal debut over two mile six furlongs and his second run over slightly shorter.
He has sat at the top of the RSA market for along time and on New Year's Day he looked to strengthen himself in the betting and when looking clear to land the Dipper Chase at Cheltenham.
However with two fences to go he jumped like a novice into the bottom of the fence and took a tumble losing his unbeaten record over fences.
Henderson was really looking to give him another run before the festival just to give him some confidence again over his fences but with time running out the horrible storms cancelling meetings all over the UK he is heading straight to the festival.
(Credit At The Races) “I was going to back off and go to Wetherby on Wednesday, but that’s gone, as well as Kelso,” said Henderson.
“I have a plan but it won’t involve a race, he won’t run again before Cheltenham, but I’ve sorted out what we are going to do.
“He’s going to have to go somewhere and do various things. If he hadn’t fallen last time I wouldn’t have been thinking about another race in any case. He doesn’t need a run.”