Classy chaser Shan Blue will head straight to the Ryanair Chase after recovering from injury, according to trainer Dan Skelton.
The Colm Donlon-owned eight-year-old has been sidelined since taking a heavy fall when clear in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in October.
A Grade One-winning novice last season, he suffered a neck injury on that seasonal bow and his Alcester-based trainer feels a prep run before the Cheltenham Festival may be out of the equation.
Shan Blue is currently a 12-1 chance with Sky Bet for the Ryanair Chase on March 17.
Skelton said: “His recovery is going really good. I spoke to his owner, Colm, and we are all set and aiming for the Ryanair Chase.
“I don’t think we will be able to get a run into him beforehand.
“There was an outside chance we might get to the Ascot Chase (February 19), but I’ve always said that is a very outside chance.
“He has had plenty of time. We are that far along along with him, so we will just try to keep doing the right thing. We are happy with him and all is good.”
Meanwhile, dual Grade Two-winning novice chaser Third Time Lucki, who saw his colours lowered by Edwardstone in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown, is set to run at Warwick next month.
Skelton confirmed the Mike Newbould-owned seven-year-old, who got bogged down in the tacky ground at Sandown and finished a distant third on his Grade One debut, is still on course for Arkle, for which he is as short at 14-1 with William Hill.
He is set to have one more run beforehand and Skelton confirmed: “I think the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick (February 12) is probable for Third Time Lucki.
“I have yet to confirm with Mike exactly what we’ll do in the spring, but I think we will go Kingmaker and then the Arkle.”