Valley Henry will bid to get back on the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup trail when he tackles the Pillar Property Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Fourth in the blue riband last year, the nine-year-old was a faller in the Pertemps King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day on his latest outing.
He had finished third to Jair Du Cochet in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on his first start for Howard Johnson after being bought out of Paul Nicholls’s stable.
Johnson today confirmed the nine-year-old as a likely runner in Saturday’s £80,000 (€116,000) contest over three miles one and a half furlongs.
“He’s all right and he runs in the Pillar. He’s good enough to run,” the County Durham trainer said.
Valley Henry is generally available at 33-1 for the Gold Cup.
Johnson is set to be triple-handed at Cheltenham on Saturday with Dalaram and Grey Abbey accompanying Valley Henry on the journey to Prestbury Park.
Dalaram, a full-brother to Daliapour and trained on the Flat by Sir Michael Stoute, makes his jumps debut in the Wragge & Co Finesse Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle.
“He jumps well,” said Johnson.
Grey Abbey is to be given a confidence booster over the smaller obstacles in the Byrne Bros Cleeve Hurdle after losing his form over fences.
The 10-year-old was a smart chaser with Barry Murtagh winning the Future Champions Novices’ Chase at Ayr in April 2001 and finishing fourth to Take Control in the Scottish National the following season.
But he has been out of action since being pulled up at Wetherby last February.
“He runs over hurdles to give him a spin round,” Johnson added.