Grade One winner Vibrato Valtat could bid to claim his first victory in more than two years in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on January 27.
The Emma Lavelle-trained 10-year-old came within a neck of getting his head in front for the first time since winning the 2015 Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter for his former trainer Paul Nicholls on his first start over three miles at Town Moor last month.
Lavelle said: “I think he really enjoyed that at Doncaster the other day and he has come out of it so well.
“He is in the Sky Bet Chase at the end of the month and that will be the plan.
“He was put up 4lb for finishing second.
“If everything goes to plan off his old form, 149 should still be a nice mark. Hopefully there is still more than one good race in him.
“He has been the same all the way through his life. He has one little kick at the end of his races and then that is it. You don’t want to get there sooner than you have to on him.
“He is a great horse to have about the place and he has already had a brilliant career.”
Meanwhile, Gordon Elliott’s exciting prospect Samcro is set to be kept to novice company this season despite being entered in the BHP Irish Champion Hurdle.
The unbeaten six-year-old will instead run in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle at the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival, taking place at Leopardstown on February 3 and 4.
Samcro took part in a public gallop at the track on Tuesday morning.
“I was speaking to Gordon this morning and he said he was leaning toward this race (Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle) with Samcro,” said Davy Condon, Elliott’s assistant.
“He did a nice bit of work this morning over a mile-and-a-half and he seems in really good form.He didn’t run the last day because of a dirty scope, but he worked very well this morning and Shane McCann, who rides him every day, was happy with him.
“He’ll definitely stay to the novice route this season and he’s going to try him over the two-six trip.”
Elliott will instead run Mick Jazz in the feature after he took advantage of Faugheen’s poor run in the Ryanair Hurdle at Christmas.
“He came out of the race well. When Faugheen pulled up, it obviously left it wide open and left him and Willie’s (Mullins) other horse (Cilaos Emery) in a battle – there wasn’t much between them,” said Condon.
“He’s a good, genuine horse, tries his best, and you’d be hoping for the same result again if something else happened.”
Buveur D’Air and Defi Du Seuil are possible opponents for Faugheen, although Nicky Henderson has indicated Sandown’s Contenders Hurdle is a more likely target for the current champion Buveur D’Air.
There are 17 entries, including the likes of Melon and Yorkhill for Mullins, while Jessica Harrington is likely to run both Supasundae and Jezki, with the trainer hoping a run over two miles will sharpen Supasundae up for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
“His main aim is the three-mile race at Cheltenham. He’s a horse that loves good ground and I don’t really want to bottom him out running over two and a half or three miles on heavy ground that he doesn’t like, so we thought we’d bring him back to two miles here,” she said.
Of Jezki, she added: “He’ll most likely run here. He’s not entered in the three-mile race at Cheltenham and will wait for Aintree and Punchestown, hopefully on better ground.”
The Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase is highlighted by Willie Mullins’ Footpad, an impressive winner of both his starts over fences to date.
He is likely to be joined by stablemate Demi Sang, who is also among the 10 entries.
“Footpad is in great shape, and this race is marked out for him,” said Mullins.
“Hopefully it doesn’t come too soon for Demi Sang. Barry (Geraghty) really liked him in Naas.
“He asked him a hard question against a horse with a lot more experience.
“He pulled it out when he was asked after the last.”
While Footpad has been making hay, Henry de Bromhead’s Petit Mouchoir has been recuperating from a setback.
“It’s not like you would have liked it to have unfolded, but that’s the way it is. He’s working towards this race and I’m happy with him at the moment,” said De Bromhead.