Buveur D’Air looks likely to take the plunge in Grade One company for the first time over fences in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown next month.
The Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old was third behind esteemed stable companion Altior and Irish ace Min in last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and went on to claim a Grade One victory of his own at Aintree the following month.
He made an impressive start to his chasing career at Haydock and followed up in workmanlike fashion at Warwick last weekend.
Speaking in his Stan James ‘roadtocheltenham’ blog, Henderson said: “Some folk were disappointed with Buveur D’Air at Warwick on New Year’s Eve but he got a bump by a horse on his inside turning for home which wasn’t very pleasant and then he got a little tired approaching the last two.
“He didn’t have a hard race the time before at Haydock but he probably put a fair bit into this one therefore he may have needed it fitness-wise. He’s absolutely fine and we’ll probably look at the Grade One Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown on February 4 to try him over two and a half miles and see how he gets on.”
The aforementioned Altior appears set for the Game Spirit Chase for his next start, despite being given an engagement in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot.
Henderson said: “Altior was given a speculative entry in the Clarence House at Ascot but it is highly likely that he’ll skip that race and go to Newbury on February 11 for the Game Spirit Chase.
“It will be his first start out of novice company but it will do him no harm and he’s fit and well and in great shape.”
Henderson also had news of Gaitway and Kayf Grace, whom he had hoped to run in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown this weekend.
He said: “I was hoping to run Gaitway and Kayf Grace in the Tolworth Hurdle but they have both met with small, but frustrating, setbacks for various different reasons. One has a health issue and the other has a small niggle.
“It’s very disappointing, very disappointing indeed. I would have loved to have run them both but that is what our racing life is all about, before everyone thinks it’s all nice and easy there are plenty of ups and downs.
“These things happen when you least expect it and there’s nothing you can do about it. We have to take a small step back with them now.”