Nicky Henderson is ready to let Brain Power take on Un De Sceaux in the Royal Salute Whisky Clarence House Chase at Ascot later this month.
High-class hurdler Brain Power won with plenty in hand on his chasing debut at Kempton in November, but looked booked for minor honours when unseating David Mullins at the final fence in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
He holds an entry in a two-mile-three-furlong novices’ chase at Doncaster on Tuesday, but Henderson is leaning towards taking on more experienced horses at Ascot on January 20.
The Willie Mullins-trained Un De Sceaux will be bidding to become the first horse to win the race three times if taking up his engagement.
Speaking in his Unibet blog, Henderson said: “Brain Power is in a race next week which is worth about £3,000, or we could go to Ascot for the Clarence House Chase for £150,000 and to be honest I’m definitely more tempted to go there.
“It will be against the older horses, but you usually only get four or five runners and with Un De Sceaux a possible contender, the race is likely to be run at a decent gallop. He wants dropping in and doesn’t want to be doing silly things like going out and making the running like he did at Sandown.
“It was the wrong way to ride him in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase, so a good gallop around Ascot might well suit him better than if you run in a small four-runner novice at a little track.
“He jumps excellent and schools great so I’ve got no worries on that front. The Arkle is obviously where we’d like to end up.”
The Seven Barrows handler is also considering the next plan of attack with Claimantakinforgan after deciding against letting him line up in the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday.
He added: “It ‘s disappointing not be running Claimantakinforgan in the Tolworth Hurdle, but to be honest it isn’t just because of the ground. Let’s not forget he only ran at Ascot two weeks ago and this comes up pretty quick, so it makes sense to wait with him a little longer.
“He doesn’t need an awful lot of racing and I wouldn’t want him having a hard race at Sandown so we’ll look at something like the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso, which we’ve won with Simonsig and Top Notch, or the Dovecote at Kempton could also be a possibility.
“I’d prefer to get him out on decent ground as he’d probably only need one run before Cheltenham anyway. He’s in great form and there is nothing wrong with him which is the most important thing.”