Warren Greatrex plans to work back from an outing in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase with La Bague Au Roi, starting with a potential appearance in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
The Lambourn handler believes the three-mile Christmas showpiece at Kempton is the most logical target for the eight-year-old mare, following her success over course distance in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on the same card 12 months ago.
Unbeaten in her first four starts over fences, La Bague Au Roi only saw her winning run ended at Aintree in April, when bidding for a Grade One hat-trick in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase.
Greatrex said: “Looking forward, the Charlie Hall has always been in the back of my mind as a start-off point, but that is not a definite as there is also the Colin Parker Chase at Carlisle, which could be a possibility.
“I think I’ve got to keep the King George as the number one target as she won around the course and distance last year. She deserves to be looking at races like that.
“She will get a mares’ allowance in the King George. It counted for a lot last year and there is every chance it will again this season as well.
Should the Charlie Hall or Carlisle come too early for La Bague Au Roi, then the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury could be an alternative starting point rather than the Betfair Chase at Haydock.
Greatrex said: “She will have an entry in the Ladbrokes Trophy and if we got to the point where we couldn’t make the Charlie Hall I would probably want to look after her mark for the Ladbrokes Trophy off 151.
“My big concern last year was that it cut up because of the ground and I wouldn’t want to run if it is a slog in really soft ground.
“I’m not convinced Haydock would be her track, last year the weather was freakish, but it does get very soft at Haydock and I don’t want to be waiting for things if races are there.”
Giving Greatrex further confidence that La Bague Au Roi can add further big-race glory to her already impressive CV is the fact she has returned a stronger individual from her summer holidays.
Greatrex added: “She has summered very well and looks great.
“She hasn’t done any fast work yet, but she did a bit of a stronger canter on Tuesday and the lad who rides her said she felt fantastic.
“The lad who rides her every morning says she feels a bit stronger, so there is every chance she could be better than last year, which is exciting.”
The Randox Health Grand National will again be the aim for former Kim Muir winner Missed Approach, who was forced to miss this year’s renewal after meeting with a setback in the build up to the Aintree spectacular.
Greatrex said: “He is back swimming every day, his season won’t start until around Christmas time, but he is in and is looking good.
“He looks a brute of a horse and the Grand National is where we want to go. It was the aim last season and it will be the aim this season.
“He could have a couple of runs in January and February, then he could be freshened up for the Grand National.”