Dan Skelton's stable star Protektorat will be aimed at the Grade Two Cotswold Chase ahead of a tilt at the Gold Cup at the 2023 Cheltenham festival.
A Grade One winner over fences on his final run of the 20/21 season at Aintree, last year in open company he continued his progress when second on seasonal debut at Cheltenham in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and off the back of that landed the Grade Two Many Clouds Chase.
Sent into the Gold Cup off the back of that run he ran a valiant race to finish third behind A Plus Tard and previous winner Minella Indo.
Looking to finish the season off in style at Aintree, the run could have come too quick for him and he could only manage fourth of nine in the Betway Bowl.
Returning this season with the Betfair Chase as his big early season aim, he made a mockery of the field that included last year's Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard and he went on to take the event by 11 lengths.
Dan Skelton has now nominated the Grade Two Cotswold Chase as his next target at Cheltenham before heading back to Prestbury Park for the Gold Cup in March.
(Credit ATR) He said: “The plan is he will go to the Cotswold Chase then the Gold Cup. He has come out of Haydock really well and looks fantastic.
“The reason for not going for the King George is that I don’t want to run him right-handed which isn’t necessarily in his favour, get beat, then get left with a rebuilding task on your hands to get him in shape for the Gold Cup.
“To win a Gold Cup I think you have got to have a very smooth preparation and I can just see a King George being an unsmooth preparation.
“The reason I entered him is I thought if all the weather we are currently having happened and they suddenly rearranged for Cheltenham on New Year’s Day then I would want to be in it.
“I think we will try a King George one day for sure, but I don’t want to do that at the moment as I think there is a smoother route for this horse to take.”