Cue Card is set to line up in either the Queen Mother Champion Chase or the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after the trainer Colin Tizzard ruled out a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The seven-year-old was a hugely impressive winner of the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on his seasonal reappearance in early November, but three miles in testing conditions proved beyond him as he finished a well-beaten fifth in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
While Tizzard is not ruling out a return to three miles at some stage in the future, Cue Card is set to come back in trip on his next start, but the trainer is unsure where his star turn will head in preparation for the Festival.
"He came out of the King George fine, he looks really well and is back in fast work now," said Tizzard. "I'm going to speak with the owner next week to decide where we go next, but hopefully he'll be out in the first couple of weeks in February somewhere.
"We've entered him in the Queen Mother and the Ryanair at Cheltenham but not the Gold Cup. In the King George, running over three miles on heavy ground against those horses found his stamina out.
"Obviously he made a mistake at the first, which didn't help, and maybe if he had had a clear round he might have lasted until the second last. I'm not saying we wouldn't try three miles again sometime, but on that particular day it found him out."
The leading Arkle candidate, Overturn, will face four rivals as he makes his second appearance over fences at Doncaster today.
The Northumberland Plate, Chester Cup, Galway Hurdle and Fighting Fifth winner made a brilliant debut over the big obstacles at Sandown in November but has missed a number of engagements due to testing conditions.
Last season's Champion Hurdle runner-up looks set to encounter a relatively sound surface on Town Moor today and trainer Donald McCain is keen to get more experience into his charge ahead of his intended trip to Cheltenham in nine weeks' time.
"We were half thinking about waiting for Kempton this weekend, but it will probably be the nicest ground he's seen in a while at Doncaster, so we'll let him take his chance there," said McCain. Overturn is a best-priced 7-1 for the Arkle Trophy on the opening day of the Festival.
Haydock's StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial on Saturday week remains the most likely seasonal starting point for another McCain horse, Peddlers Cross. After a disappointing end to his novice campaign over fences, connections stated their intentions to switch the 2011 Champion Hurdle runner-up back to the smaller obstacles this term and McCain is keen to find out whether his charge will stay three miles to open the door for a potential tilt at the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham.