Confidence-booster for Champion

  • Last Updated: January 14 2013, 15:32 GMT

Champion Court, who bravely fought it out with Long Run until his stamina gave out in the King George VI Chase last month, bids to get back on the winning trail at Haydock on Saturday.

Champion Court: Intended starter at Haydock

Trainer Martin Keighley hopes his stable star will enjoy having his confidence boosted when he lines up in the Graduation Chase at Haydock.

Having jumped the fourth-last fence in front at Kempton, he eventually faded to finish fourth in the King George, but still gave connections a thrill.

"He seems in good form and as long as he works well on Tuesday the plan is to let him take his chance on Saturday," said Keighley.

"It's a perfect race to run him in and hopefully a good opportunity for him to get a win on the board and get a confidence-booster before Cheltenham.

"Hopefully he'll run on Saturday and that gives him a nice break before the Festival."

Champion Court is engaged in both the Ryanair Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Festival in March, but Keighley confirmed the shorter race was his most likely target.

"The first preference is the Ryanair, but it's nice to have the Gold Cup there as a second option," said the trainer.

"I'm sure he will get three miles on good ground, he just didn't quite get home on heavy ground in the King George."

Champion Court is one of 14 entries for Saturday's Haydock race and he is officially rated 9lb better than any of his rivals.

Perhaps his most interesting potential opponent is the Alan King-trained Bensalem.

The 10-year-old was a top-class staying hurdler and a winner over fences at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival, but has been sidelined for the best part of two years by injury.

Last year's Grand National fourth Cappa Bleu has also been entered and could use this race as a stepping-stone back to Aintree.

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