Nicky Henderson has confirmed the Savills Chase at Leopardstown as the likely comeback target for Champ.
Last seen lunging late to claim a third win from four starts over fences in a thrilling renewal of the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, the JP McManus-owned eight-year-old is this season on the Gold Cup trail.
Champ holds an entry in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, but Henderson is unsure the right-handed speed test that Kempton represents will suit – and views the Savills Chase in Ireland two days later as a suitable alternative.
“Champ is very, very good and building up well,” said Henderson.
“We had to stop and have a wind operation, but I’m glad we got that done and he’s done a bit of schooling – he went over to Henrietta Knight’s for a few days. His jumping could tidy up a little bit.
“He’s in the King George, but I’m mindful with him and Santini that I don’t think Kempton is a good track for either of them.
“Champ would tend to go out to his left a little bit an I think there’s every possibility he might be going to Ireland – it would be the obvious race for him, possibly.
“He is a very good horse, Champ. He lost his place at the second-last in the RSA and I just wonder if that wind issue just caused him to drop off them for a moment, then he cleared it and got going in that rather miraculous finish.”
Last season’s Gold Cup runner-up Santini is expected to return in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree on December 5, the same day on which Altior is due to make his reappearance in the Tingle Creek at Sandown.
Of Altior, the trainer added: “He’s all set for Sandown on Saturday week, absolutely.
“He’s in really good form, he galloped at Newbury last week and was good. He schooled the other day – frightening.”