Leading trainer Nicky Henderson has announced that his chasing star Champ is set to make his seasonal return at Leopardstown in the Grade One Savills Chase over Christmas.
The superstar pulled off the performance of the 2020 Cheltenham festival when jumping the last in the RSA well behind the two tiring leaders but managing to fly up the hill, staying the best of the field and just getting up on the line to land the Grade One.
Before that race he lost his unbeaten record over fences when falling two out at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, but at the festival he put everything right and looks to be a hell of a staying horse.
The Gold Cup looks to be the big target for the JP McManus owned horse this term and with that in mind the Seven Barrows team are being slightly more cautious with him and what races he is entered in.
He had an option in the Many Clouds at Aintree, but that now looks as though stablemate Santini will start his season off there and although he also has entries in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, Henderson feels the Savills Chase is a much better alternative.
(Credit ATR) The handler said: “Champ is very, very good and building up well.
“We had to stop and have a wind operation, but I’m glad we got that done and he’s done a bit of schooling – he went over to Henrietta Knight’s for a few days. His jumping could tidy up a little bit.
“He’s in the King George, but I’m mindful with him and Santini that I don’t think Kempton is a good track for either of them.
“Champ would tend to go out to his left a little bit an I think there’s every possibility he might be going to Ireland – it would be the obvious race for him, possibly.
“He is a very good horse, Champ. He lost his place at the second-last in the RSA and I just wonder if that wind issue just caused him to drop off them for a moment, then he cleared it and got going in that rather miraculous finish.”