Champ will not run in the Unibet Many Clouds Chase at Aintree this weekend, with trainer Nicky Henderson targeting the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.
The Nicky Henderson-trained nine-year-old has not been seen since pulling up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March on what was just his second run of the season.
Champ held an entry in this weekend’s Grade Two in Liverpool, but Henderson would rather wait until there is appreciably more cut in the ground.
“He’s going to pass this one. He’ll school again tomorrow. He’s difficult to place. We thought about the Many Clouds, but we’re going to leave that one alone for now,” Henderson told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.
“He’s one that has a bit to find yet and probably wants some easier ground as well. Funnily enough we’ve been on the grass for the first time this season today. He wants an easier surface and he’s got a bit to do.
“We put him in the Long Walk Hurdle which is going to be interesting because Buzz is going there, On The Blind Side is almost certainly going there. It is possible, but as you saw in the Gold Cup we’ve got to get his jumping right.
“When he schools tomorrow we’ll decide which route to take.
“He had significant surgery on his back, it’s not serious but it was significant. We’re finding it more and more common because it’s easily detectable but the surgery is relatively simple.”