Colin Tizzard is leaning towards a novice chasing campaign with last season's dual Grade 1-winning hurdler Reserve Tank, with the expectation that he can excel over fences.
The five-year-old improved rapidly in the start of 2019, winning at Sandown and Kempton before highly impressive top-level victories at the Aintree and Punchestown festivals. He is currently 16-1 for the JLT at Cheltenham, while bookmakers price him at a general 14-1 shot if he was stepped down in distance for a tilt at the Arkle.
Tizzard said: "He improved massively last season but we have a decision to make as to whether we go novice chasing. Personally I would, but it is not a straightforward decision and we will talk about it.
"He is a good jumper and if we decide to go chasing he will start in the novice chase at Chepstow. We think he will make a top chaser"
Cue Card won the 2m3½f Listed novice chase in 2011
Native River third in the 2m3½f Listed novice chase in 2015
Thistlecrack won the 2m7½f novice chase in 2016
Finian's Oscar won the 2m3½f Listed novice chase in 2017
Elegant Escape second in the 2m7½f novice chase in 2017
There was less deliberation about what obstacles Vision Des Flos, a Graded winner over hurdles last season and unlucky when last seen finishing sixth at Punchestown, would be campaigned over with the chasing route already decided upon.
“He will go chasing," said the Dorset trainer. "We stepped him up in trip last time and he was running a big race before he fluffed the last, he might have finished second or first. He was a top-class hurdler and the RSA is in the back of our minds."
Last season's Tolworth Hurdle winner Elixir De Nutz will stay over hurdles.
The five-year-old, who defeated Grand Sancy by half a length in Sandown's Grade 1, was found lame a week before his intended run in the Supreme at the Cheltenham Festival, but Tizzard is hoping he can make it back to the opening day of the Festival with the Champion Hurdle his main target, for which he is a 33-1 chance.
“We are going to try and make Elixir De Nutz into a Champion Hurdler and there is no reason why he can’t be," said the Dorset trainer. "He will need to go up a fair bit, but last year was his first proper season and he won three, including a Grade 1.
"We have given him a bit more time out in the field because he had a little injury. We want him in all of the big races in the spring, he will be out in December and we will look at some of the Champion Hurdle trials for him.”
Another top hurdling prospect is Eldorado Allen, who made a big impression when winning at Sandown before suffering a season-ending injury at Aintree in a freak accident when brought down at the first.
“It was frightening how good he was at Sandown that day, said Tizzard. “He is rated 145 off the back of one run really. We will stay hurdling with him and he could be anything. He could be seriously well-handicapped, he is a beautiful horse."