Kerry trainer Tom Cooper is preparing stable star Forpadydeplasterer for a crack at this season's King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
The luckless eight-year-old — who finished second in his six starts last season, including the Tingle Creek, Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Melling Chase at Aintree — will start his campaign off in either the Fortria Chase at Navan or a race at Cheltenham before heading to Kempton.
Cooper said: “We're going to have one cut at three miles this year and probably go for the King George. He gives himself every chance of staying and if he does, the sky's the limit with him. We just need to get one run into him first before he steps up in trip.”
The Tralee handler also has high hopes this year for River Liane, second in a Grade Two chase before injury curtailed his season, and Son Amix, fourth in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham.
Forpadydeplasterer is quoted at 16/1 for the Kempton showpiece, with Kauto Star — who will contest the JNwine.com Chase at the Down Royal Festival a fortnight on Saturday — the 2-1 favourite.
The Willie Mullins-trained Arvika Legionniere has been cut to 20/1 from 25/1 for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy.
In common with many of his colleagues, Mullins is awaiting a change in the weather before even entering the cream of his crop and thus will be heartened somewhat by the expectation of heavy rainfall in Galway ahead of the final meetings of the year in Ballybrit next Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.
The 14 races down for decision there carry a total prize fund of €214,500 thanks to more sponsorship support by local firms
Yet to decide on his Racing Post Trophy challengers at Doncaster on Saturday, Aidan O'Brien is mob-handed at Navan this afternoon when saddling six colts in an attempt to extend his remarkable winning sequence in the Trim Maiden for juveniles.
This one-mile contest has gone to Ballydoyle-based runners for the past six years, most notably when Fame And Glory made a successful debut in 2008, and the champion trainer is responsible for a third of the 18-runner field on this occasion.
While the stable's half-dozen newcomers include three sired by the remarkable Galileo, Johnny Murtagh — who steered the odds-on Flying Cross to victory 12 months ago — is aboard Montjeu's son Recital as he bids to sustain the defence of his title.