Nicky Henderson is eyeing the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle as a potential starting point for the season for his Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D’Air.
The JP McManus-owned six-year-old kicked off the last campaign with successive victories over fences before Henderson decided to change tack and revert to hurdles in the new year.
It proved a masterstroke as Buveur D’Air claimed Champion Hurdle glory at the Cheltenham Festival and he was just as impressive in the Aintree Hurdle the following month.
“We are in no rush with him because he has to have soft ground, which would mean something like the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on December 2 could be a possible starting point,” said Henderson.
“It all very much depends on what the weather is doing.
“He is cantering away nicely and if he can kick off where he left off in April, we are in for some exciting times ahead.”
Buveur D’Air spearheads a typically strong team of hurdlers at Seven Barrows heading into the winter.
L’Ami Serge claimed his first victory at Grade One level in the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil in June and Henderson confirmed he will “go down the Stayers’ Hurdle route now”.
Charli Parcs had a big reputation last term, but following a sparkling British debut at Kempton last Christmas, he fell in the Adonis Hurdle and was only sixth in the Triumph at Cheltenham.
Henderson, however, is not giving up on him just yet.
“I still maintain maximum faith in him. I really do believe he’s good and despite falling at Kempton, he still ran very well in the Triumph after a far from ideal preparation,” the trainer said in his Stan James blog.
“He’s in top order at the moment and we may have a look at the Gerry Feilden at Newbury (December 2) as his first port of call.”
Champ and Claimantakinforgan are among the trainer’s squad set to go novice hurdling this term.