Kauto Star may start his new campaign in Northern Ireland after being awarded a rating of 190 at the Anglo-Irish Jump Racing Awards during a ceremony held in London's Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel yesterday.
The mark is the highest in 11 years of the classifications, at which the Paul Nicholls-trained 10-year-old was named Champion Three Mile + chaser for the third time.
Nicholls said of his four-time King George VI Chase hero: “Kauto has come back safe and sound, and will be back in the autumn.
“If I had my way he might go to Down Royal (rather than Haydock) in November, I think that's a good place to start.
“The big race then is the King George at Christmas, and then we'll have a go at the Gold Cup again.
“We were of the opinion before this year's Gold Cup that he was as good as ever, you never know but I suspect he will be as good as ever in the autumn.
“Denman looks fantastic. I'm not sure it will be the Hennessy first. It would be awfully hard to win off a mark of 182, and I don't want to give him too hard a race and put him off. We may have a look at Haydock or possibly Leopardstown. Next year could be a vintage year for jumps racing.”
Another first for the classifications was having three horses rated over 180.
Imperial Commander was handed a rating of 185 for his totesport Gold Cup victory — the third-highest rating ever given — and Gold Cup runner-up Denman allotted a mark of 182 for his superb weight-carrying performance in the Hennessy.
Nicholls also trains leading staying hurdler Big Buck's, who was given a rating of 174 in winning that award for the second successive year — and was also tagged Horse of the Year following the inaugural public vote for that honour.
To cap a great year, Nicholls, who was champion trainer for a fifth time, also collected the leading two-mile novice chase award with Tataniano who shared the prize with Arkle winner Sizing Europe (160). The champion two-mile chase crown went to Colm Murphy's Big Zeb (174) courtesy of his victory in the Queen Mother, while Nicky Henderson's Binocular (173) retained the two-mile hurdlers' title.
His jockey, Tony McCoy, was on hand to collect his 15th champion jockey title, having enjoyed a sensational 2009-10 season, culminating in an emotional Grand National success aboard the Don't Push It, with owner JP McManus collecting the Champion British Owner crown for the second consecutive year.
Connections of Albertas Run landed the £100,000 Order Of Merit prize with Jonjo O'Neill's chaser also winning the two-and-a-half-mile crown. British Horseracing Authority chairman Paul Roy said: “Again we witnessed another vintage season on the jumps circuit, brimming with memorable performances.”