Henry de Bromhead is eyeing the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase as a possible Christmas date for Monalee.
The nine-year-old failed to strike in three starts last season, but counted a head defeat by Delta Work in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown and a one-and-three-quarter-length fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup among those efforts.
Monalee is set to return to action in the Boomerang.ie Chase at Thurles on Thursday week, with the Listed contest a stepping stone to potential Kempton outing on Boxing Day.
De Bromhead said: “He’s great. He will go to Thurles next week and start in a Listed chase there, then we were thinking we might go to the King George with him and see how we get on there.
“Then obviously we will aim him towards the Gold Cup.”
Minella Indo was narrowly denied by the flying finish of Champ in last season’s RSA at Cheltenham and he already has a win under his belt after hacking up by 25 lengths in a Grade Three heat at Wexford last month.
De Bromhead has now set his sights on the BetVictor Make Your Best Bet Chase at Navan on November 22 for the seven-year-old, who has had just four chase outings to date.
He said: “He’s a really good horse, obviously, and he was good the other day. I was delighted with him, I was actually surprised by how sharp he was to be honest, usually he takes a while to warm up. He was brilliant that day I thought and he will go to Navan next week and then maybe on to Leopardstown at Christmas.
“He’s won over three miles over hurdles, he was just chinned in the RSA – I think he’s got as good a profile as any (for the Gold Cup).”
A Plus Tard could take a jump up in trip after having to settle for the runner-up spot for the second successive year in Navan’s Fortria Chase on Sunday.
While the six-year-old was a Grade One winner at Leopardstown over two miles and a furlong last year before finishing third in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, De Bromhead is not convinced A Plus Tard is best suited by speed heats and he may be set a more exacting stamina test next month.
He said: “I was a little bit disappointed I suppose (on Sunday), but he just seems to get caught out. Until he won at Christmas, I’d never really had him as a two-miler. Then he was so impressive at Christmas – that’s two-one at Leopardstown – but he just doesn’t seem to jump those fences quick enough over that trip.
“It was a nice start. Your hands are tied a little bit as he’s so much better going left-handed, so there aren’t many two-and-a-half-mile races on left-handed tracks until the spring.
“It was good to get him out and we’ll enter him probably for the Savills Chase and the race he won last year at Leopardstown and decide nearer the time. I’d be leaning towards trying him over three miles, but we’ll see.”
De Bromhead has another top-class chaser on his hands in Chris’s Dream, who was beaten just a neck by The Storyteller on his return in the Grade One Champion Chase at Down Royal last month.
Winner of the Red Mills Chase over two and a half miles last season, he could now switch back to that distance in search of a first top-level strike at Punchestown next month.
De Bromhead said: “Chris was brilliant, he ran a cracker there the other day at Down Royal and was unfortunate not to win. He still ran a blinder.
“I would say we’ll drop him back to two and a half miles in the John Durkan and then we’ll give him a good break and train him for the spring. He seems to run very well fresh.”
De Bromhead is poised to thrust Notebook back into action for the first time since his disappointing effort when finishing sixth in the Arkle.
Sent off the 5-2 favourite, Notebook was well beaten by stable companion Put The Kettle On – but De Bromhead thinks it may have been one run too many at the Festival.
He said: “My plan for Notebook would be the Poplar Chase (at Naas on November 21), either way I would imagine we would go to Leopardstown at Christmas and aim towards the Champion Chase. He obviously didn’t run to form there last year in Cheltenham, so I might try to get him there a bit fresher.
“He’d had four runs already and was going there on his fifth run, so maybe we’ll try to get him there on his fourth run, but we’ll see how the season unfolds.”