Image reproduced with the kind permission of Newbury Racecourse

Blaklion is set to bypass the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup in favour of a prep run at Haydock.

The nine-year-old finished fourth in the National last year and was last seen when winning the Becher Chase over the famous Aintree fences in December.

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has given Blaklion a Cheltenham entry, but is instead planning to tackle the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock on February 17 ahead of his Aintree date in April.

Twiston-Davies told the Guardian: “The Gold Cup is looking doubtful. I had a talk with the owners and we’ll just head for the National I’d expect. We’re thinking we’ll go to the Grand National Trial at Haydock; that could be his next run.”

The handler also has Bristol De Mai entered but is unsure of plans after he finished third at Cheltenham last Saturday.

Twiston-Davies added: “Bristol De Mai was disappointing and we don’t really know what we’re going to do with him yet. He’s entered (for the National) and he’s got lots of alternatives.”