Welsh Grand National winner Elegant Escape is likely to be stepped back up to the top table on his next start by heading straight to the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Trainer Colin Tizzard has indicated the seven-year-old, yet to win in six previous attempts at Grade One level, will have a short break before joining stablemates Thistlecrack and Gold Cup winner Native River in the highlight the Cheltenham Festival on March 15.
Tizzard said: “Elegant Escape is now rated 159 and is only about 7lb away from being a Gold Cup horse. He might make a Grand National horse as well, because he is a tough stayer.
“We’ve just got to sit and think about it – but the fact is he has won at Sandown, won a Welsh National by outstaying them all and was second in a Ladbrokes Trophy, where he was the only one really finishing that day.”
Initial entries for the Gold Cup will be published this week.
Tizzard added: “I think his next race will be the Gold Cup, because he has had three hard races and we are only around two months away from the Gold Cup. If he had only had one run, we would have gone again.“
Tizzard will put the chasing career of Kilbricken Storm on hold to prepare him for a tilt at the Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle.
Last season’s Albert Bartlett winner will be given a prep run back over hurdles before a shot at the Grade One prize at the Cheltenham Festival. He is as short as 16-1 in the ante-post betting but Coral and Ladbrokes offer 40-1.
After making a winning start over fences at Ffos Las, the eight-year-old failed to follow it up when beating only one home in a Grade Two contest at Newbury last month.
Tizzard said: “Kilbricken Storm is going to go back down the Stayers’ Hurdle route. He was not quite right after his last run over fences. He will have one more run, then go for the Stayers’ Hurdle.”
Kilbricken Storm’s outstanding form over the smaller obstacles was a revelation last season.
Tizzard added: “The owners are not very keen to continue over fences, and they are quite keen to have a go at the Stayers’ Hurdle.
“When we bought him his point-to-point form was only moderate, but he was a very good hurdler last season.
“He was very good at the Cheltenham Festival last season, and it is becoming more fashionable to swap horses round.”
Connections of Black Op announced last week that he would also be switching back to the smaller obstacles.