Energumene is among 11 entries for the SBK Clarence House Chase at Ascot on January 22 – with Willie Mullins confirming the race is firmly in his sights.
Absent from the two-mile Grade One at Leopardstown over Christmas, in which stablemate Chacun Pour Soi was a late absentee, Energumene has only been seen once this season.
That was in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork, where he once again showed his ability in winning by over eight lengths.
He has only met with one defeat since joining Mullins having won a point-to-point in England, and that came in his first bumper.
Since then he has won a bumper, a novice hurdle and five over fences, including two Grade Ones, but this would be his first trip outside Ireland having missed last season’s Cheltenham Festival.
“That’s the plan at the moment. We said we’d sidestep Christmas and go there. All is good with him,” said Mullins.
“We had to make a decision and decided we wouldn’t get him ready for yesterday, we thought it was probably quick enough.
“The Clarence House is better spaced out time-wise.”
It could be an early clash with Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin, who returned to action with a scintillating display at Kempton on Monday.
However, Henderson has yet to confirm Ascot as the plan, coming as it does just three weeks after the Desert Orchid Chase.
Last year’s winner First Flow is likely to defend his crown having won the Peterborough Chase over two and a half miles and the second at Huntingdon, Funambule Sivola, is another possible.
Paul Nicholls has two possibles, Hitman and Rouge Vif, while Sky Pirate is in the mix for Jonjo O’Neill.
Amoola Gold, Eldorado Allen, Sizing Pottsie and Waiting Patiently complete the list.