Tom Lacey is hoping Thomas Patrick can rediscover his form after two disappointing performances.
The six-year-old ended his first season over fences on a high with two victories and began this term by running Welsh National hero Elegant Escape to half a length in the Future Stars Intermediate Chase at Sandown in November.
However, he seems to have lost his way since then, being well beaten in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury and the Silver Cup at Ascot, when sent off favourite on both occasions.
Lacey said: “The trouble is there’s no stepping stone. A progressive novice ends up with a hugely-inflated handicap mark and you’ve nowhere to go apart from in at the deep end. It’s hard to place him.
“Thomas is only seven (on New Year’s Day). He’s in that staying chase at Warwick (Classic Chase). Whether he’ll go there, I don’t know.
“He’s in great order. His work at home has been very superior to last year, but he’s just not firing at the track. Richard (Johnson) felt he has just lost that bit of confidence jumping round Ascot the other day.
“I thought he galloped all the way to the line at Ascot, which was nice to see.”