Henry de Bromhead reports A Plus Tard to have returned to home in rude health following his brilliant victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.
Runner-up to stablemate Minella Indo in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, the seven-year-old is clear favourite to go one better in March off the back of his 22-length demolition job on Merseyside.
Next on the agenda for the Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding is a defence of his crown in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.
Minella Indo, meanwhile, could renew rivalry with A Plus Tard, or head for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Of his Haydock hero, De Bromhead said: “He’s great. He got home on Sunday morning and he was really good. He’s out in the field today and we’re really happy with him.
“He is certainly going to the Savills and no decision has been made on Minella Indo as yet. He’ll be entered for both that and the King George and we’ll see nearer the time what everyone wants to do.”
More immediately the County Waterford handler is looking forward to the return of his Champion Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle, who will on Sunday bid to join Limestone Lad, Solerina and Apple’s Jade as a three-time winner of the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
“Honeysuckle seems in great form,” the trainer added.
“She schooled this morning and jumped well. Rachael (Blackmore) was happy with her, so all good.”
Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Put The Kettle On, meanwhile, is set to go back against her own sex in a mares’ chase at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day.
A dual Cheltenham Festival winner, having also won the 2020 Arkle, she is likely to have her sights lowered after finishing third when bidding for back-to-back wins in the Shloer Chase – her first defeat in five visits to the Cotswolds.
De Bromhead said: “I thought it was a similar run to last year in the Shloer, it was just the ground was a lot softer last year, which gave her a chance to come back at them.
“She seems good and having discussed it with everyone, I’d say we’ll step her up in trip and run in the mares’ chase at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day.”
On which race she will contest at the Festival, he added: “We’ll see how it all unfolds. It’s not certain (she will defend her Champion Chase crown). She’ll probably have a few entries – obviously there’s the Mares’ Chase and there’s also the Ryanair.
“I would say she’ll be entered for all of those and we’ll see nearer the time. She seems a different lady in the spring, so we’ll see what way the ground is.”