Monday 17 October 2016 15:03, UK
Oliver Sherwood is leaning towards starting former Grand National winner Many Clouds off in the Betfred Lotto Chase at Aintree in December.
Although plans remain fluid, the Upper Lambourn handler has earmarked the three-mile Listed prize, in which the Trevor Hemmings-owned gelding finished second in 12 months ago, as a potential starting point.
The nine-year-old, who has recently undergone a wind operation, failed in his bid to become the first horse since Red Rum in 1973 and 1974 to claim back-to-back renewals of the Aintree showpiece in April when 16th behind winner Rule The World, virtually being pulled up after the last.
Sherwood said: "Many Clouds is fine. He had a little wind operation about a month ago. He is back cantering and due to come back into full work later this week.
"He made a noise after the Canal Turn in the National. Leighton (Aspell) just felt him gurgling.
"If they have a something up with their wind, you find it out more on soft ground than good ground. That doesn't mean he doesn't like soft ground as he has won on soft and heavy in the past.
"He went to see Ben Brain (vet) and there were no abnormalities in the airways. It was a very common procedure he had. It was just the cauterisation of his soft palate.
"I've not spoken to Mick Meagher (Hemmings' racing manager) about a plan, but I could not be happier with him.
"My gut feeling is to probably go for the race at Aintree he finished second behind Don Poli in last year. As it is in December, it's a race that we don't have to rush or push him hard to get there."
Sherwood revealed former Grade Two-winning hurdler Puffin Billy could make his seasonal return over smaller obstacles before being switched back to fences.
The eight-year-old has not been seen since winning at the 2015 Scottish Grand National meeting at Ayr, with a tendon injury keeping him on the sidelines last term.
Sherwood added: "Puffin Billy is back in and he will start full work this week. It was a tendon injury below the fetlock that he had. It just needed some time to be right.
"The injury seems to be good though, and he has been coming along nicely. At the minute there are no set plans. We know he wants to go right handed which limits us while he misses those intermediate chases as he missed last season.
"It means we either start in a handicap or conditions race, but I would not be averse to giving him a spin over hurdles. He won't be running until the end of November or beginning of December."