Colin Tizzard was full of praise for Fox Norton After his return to the track at Ascot in the Clarence House Chase but did state he is in no rush to face him up against Altior again after being beaten soundly.
Coming back to racing after over a year off the track with an injury, Fox Norton put in what can only be described as a hearty, respectable performance in defeat to Altior.
The dual Grade 1 winning gelding put in a solid jumping performance on his seasonal debut and stayed on well behind Henderson's superstar, who stretched his unbeaten run over obstacles to 17 straight victories, to finish seven lengths back in second.
The last time the Tizzard trained horse was seen was back in 2017 when he was pulled up in the King George at Kempton.
His next outing could be as soon as next month when he will head to Newbury in the Betfair Game Spirited Chase and how well he does in that will decide his festival target in March.
(Credit Racing Post) Tizzard said:"We're delighted with him and I think most of his ability is still there, but we've got to get him racing again and will take him to the Game Spirit next," said Tizzard.
"He's entered in the Champion Chase and Ryanair, and I suppose Altior will decide which way we go. I don't think we can beat him and on all known form we won't. But if he frightens everyone else away, we might decide to go for it."
Ante-post markets suggest Fox Norton holds a better chance in the Ryanair being a general 16/1shot to take the spoils, where he is 25/1 to land the Queen Mother Champion Chase and Tizzard may look to favour the Ryanair with the step up in trip no problem for his horse.
"We ran him in the King George and he'll stay any trip when he's right so there's a chance he'll step up in trip, especially if Altior is going there in full throttle," the trainer said.