Two For Gold will head to the Grand National following his recent runner-up effort to Fakir D’Oudairies in the Grade One Ascot Chase.
Trainer Kim Bailey confirmed that the Aintree marathon on April 9 will be his target – providing he gets the ground he likes.
The nine-year-old was beaten just a length and three-quarters, having raced prominently throughout the two-mile-and-five-furlong contest.
Though he previously unseated David Bass after the Canal Turn in the Topham Chase over the National fences last April, connections are keen to run Two For Gold in the extended four-and-a-quarter-mile handicap at Liverpool, where he is set to shoulder 10st 11lb.
Bailey said: “He got quite tired at Ascot. He gave his all and he had a hard race.
“I spoke to the owners this morning and the plan is to go to the National and we will see what the ground is. If it was soft ground, he will probably run, if it is not, he won’t.
“We don’t really have a back-up plan, because he has done what he can do this season and he is ground-related, he wants soft ground.”
Though Bailey was in sunnier climes – watching his son Archie play cricket and take six wickets in 24 overs for Gloucestershire U18s in a tour match against a local college in Sri Lanka – the Andoversford handler had time to watch Two For Gold’s gritty display.
“That was a phenomenal performance at Ascot,” he said. “I was watching from Sri Lanka and I could not believe it.
“He was 25-1 and thought he would be lucky to be third or fourth, but he looked like he was going to win at the second last, which was more than I expected.
“He has kept on improving all season. He ran a good race at Lingfield when landing the Fleur de Lys Chase and he has kept on improving with every single run.
“The National is a possibility. I worked for Fred Rimell and he always felt that a good National Horse wants two and a half miles and he does that very comfortably.”
Meanwhile, Tiger Roll will not be lining up against Two For Gold at Aintree.
His owner, Michael O’Leary, had already ruled out a historic hat-trick bid due to his “ridiculous rating and unfair weight” and he was officially scratched from the race on Tuesday.
A total of 14 horses were removed, including fellow Irish-trained horses Eklat De Rire, Off You Go, The Big Dog, Assemble, Mister Fogpatches, Eurobot and Brace Yourself.
Tiger Roll will now bid for a record-equalling sixth success at the Cheltenham Festival, with trainer Gordon Elliott preparing the legendary 12-year-old for Glenfarclas Chase, which he has won three times previously.