Kotkikova is expected to raise her game on her next appearance following her creditable effort in defeat at Leopardstown on Wednesday.

A Grade One-winning chaser in France and also a multiple winner over the smaller obstacles, the five-year-old made her eagerly-anticipated debut for trainer Nicky Henderson and owner JP McManus in the three-mile Christmas Hurdle.

While she ultimately proved no match for Vroum Vroum Mag, she was far from disgraced in finishing fifth after travelling well for a long way on her first start since April.

The owner’s racing manager Frank Berry said: “She ran well to a point. It was her first run after a long time so hopefully she will improve for it. It’s too early to say where she’ll go next.”

Nothing has come to light to explain the poor performance of the McManus-owned Anibale Fly in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The Tony Martin-trained six-year-old did not seem to enjoy himself in the Grade 1 contest and was eventually pulled up.

“Maybe he frightened himself over the first couple of fences,” said Berry.

“He never performed and maybe the ground was quick enough for him there.

“There’s nothing you can put your finger on.”