Shark Hanlon’s stable star filled the runner-up spot in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase for the second year in succession in the hands of Andrew McNamara, the fourth time he has finished second at Grade One level in the space of 12 months.
Those efforts include a fine performance behind Dynaste in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and Hanlon is hoping to see his charge line up at Prestbury Park again in March, but this time the Queen Mother Champion Chase is the probable target.
“He has come out of his race very well and I was thrilled with the way he jumped. There are a couple of other options but the Tied Cottage Chase might be his next race,” said Hanlon.
“He’ll have one run before Cheltenham, where he’s very likely to run in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. His jumping has come together and they go harder in the Queen Mother (than the Ryanair Chase) which suits him as he pulls quite hard.
“The race should suit him better, but no definite decision has yet been made.”
Meanwhile Dermot Weld is confident Champion Bumper hero Silver Concorde will come good on better ground following a short-priced reverse on his hurdling debut at Leopardstown last week.
Having bounded up the hill to clinch victory at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and filled the runner-up spot in the Punchestown equivalent, the six-year-old made a successful reappearance on the Flat at Navan in early October.
He was sent off at odds of 1-3 for his jumping bow, but had to settle for the runner-up spot.
Weld said: “I wasn’t disappointed with Silver Concorde as it was his first time over hurdles and he is a good ground horse and hasn’t ever won on heavy ground.
“He’ll run again whenever he gets decent ground – it won’t be good ground, but he could run next in February.”
Silver Concorde is a best priced 25-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Starchitect will try to get back on the winning path in the next few weeks after being put in his place by the exciting Peace And Co at Doncaster last month.
Trainer Donald McCain felt it was no disgrace going down to the JCB Triumph Hurdle favourite in the Grade Two Summit Juvenile Hurdle and was happy enough with his horse’s display.
McCain will be hoping for a stronger gallop when Starchitect, who had won his first races over hurdles at Bangor and Aintree, returns to action.
Among the options are Festival trials days at Cheltenham on January 24 and at Musselburgh on February 1.
“He came up against a smart one, probably the best one I’ve seen so far this season,” said the Cheshire handler.
“I think our horse would be better suited by an end-to-end gallop and a proper test when they are not quickening, but, still, second in a Grade Two was a good run and he’s a nice horse.
“We’ll go with him again soon. Obviously there’s the Cheltenham race and there’s one up at Musselburgh which (his owner) Paul (Rooney) would like.”
Mountainous is to be prepared for a second crack at the Crabbie’s Grand National despite suffering a slight setback at Chepstow.
The 10-year-old suffered an overreach and was pulled up before the fifth-last fence when attempting to register back-to-victories in the Coral Welsh Grand National.
Trainer Richard Lee stresses it is only a minor problem and expects to put Mountainous back in a exercise in a week’s time in readiness for one prep run before the world’s greatest steeplechase at Aintree on April 11.
“He got a nasty overreach, which has curtailed him a little bit, but he’ll be back. In another week or so he’ll be back in work. It’s nothing too serious at all,” said the Herefordshire handler.