Kempton next for Champion Court
Martin Keighley is looking to give Champion Court a confidence-boosting run at Kempton next month ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.
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The Gloucestershire trainer felt the eight-year-old did not stay the three miles in heavy ground when fourth to Long Run in the King George VI Chase but would have no qualms about trying over a similar trip in better conditions.
In the meantime he is dropping him back to two and a half miles as well as in grade in the hope of a timely boost before the big meeting in March, where he holds entries in the Ryanair Chase and the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.
"In the King George he didn't stay the three miles in heavy ground and I don't see the point in running again over that trip on that ground," Keighley told At The Races.
"Ideally good to soft ground suits him. He's got some cracking form on that ground. That was the first time he'd experienced heavy ground this season - his first run at Ascot and then the King George. He can cope with that but he's better on better ground.
"For the Festival, the Ryanair would be first preference this year and hopefully he could be a Gold Cup horse next season.
"He has got an entry in the Gold Cup but I think Ryanair this time and see what happens next season.
"If it was good ground you just don't know what's going to run. The Ryanair could be hotter than the Gold Cup so we're given him a couple of options.
"A graduation chase at Kempton next month is ideal. It's two-mile-four. It would be an easier option for him and it would be great for him to get his head in front before he goes to Cheltenham and he would go there full of confidence."