Bravemansgame is likely to stick to novice company this weekend despite appearing as one of six entries in the Betfair Denman Chase.
Trainer Paul Nicholls has earmarked the Betfair Cheltenham Roarcast Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase over just short of three miles for his exciting prospect, who beat Ahoy Senor comfortably in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.
Stablemate and dual King George VI Chase winner Clan Des Obeaux could face a fascinating clash with Royale Pagaille in the Denman.
Second when attempting to win the Christmas highlight for a third time on Boxing Day, Paul Nicholls will be banking on Clan Des Obeaux to pull him out of a rare lull in form.
Along with the big three in the Deman are Imperial Aura, Eldorado Allen and De Rasher Counter
“The intention is for Bravemansgame to run in the novices’ handicap over two-mile-seven as a prep for Cheltenham. We’ve put him in the Denman in case anything happened to Clan, but the intention is to run in the handicap,” said Nicholls.
“Clan ran a nice race in the King George, he only just got beat in this race last year and it suits him quite well.”
He went on: “We haven’t too many options for Bravemansgame. When Denman won the race it was a level-weights race, but it got changed back to a handicap. I don’t want to go to Ascot next week as that is getting close to Cheltenham, so this was the only opportunity for him.
“It’s a limited handicap, I think he carries 11st 8lb with the bottom weight 10st 3lb, so there’s 19lb between top and bottom.”
Only six have been entered in the Betfair Exchange Game Spirit, with Nicholls’ Hitman among them.
Last year’s winner Sceau Royal, who has run exclusively over hurdles to date this season, is due to return to the larger obstacles for Alan King.
Gary Moore’s Editeur Du Gite could step up in class from handicaps while Funambule Sivola, Sky Pirate and Cheddleton complete the list.