Saint Calvados delighted his trainer Harry Whittington in a racecourse gallop at Newbury on Sunday ahead of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
The bold-jumping front-runner is on course to take on title-holder Altior in the two-mile showpiece on Wednesday week.
The six-year-old has had mixed fortunes so far this season. Superb winner of the Grade Three Poplar Square Chase at Naas in November, he was a well-beaten third to Altior in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in December and occupied the same position behind Min in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown last month.
“He had a gallop at Newbury racecourse yesterday. He did it all on the bridle, had a day out and enjoyed himself,” said Whittington on Monday.
“It’s all systems go for the Champion Chase.
“The ground should be fine. It will probably look like a mixture of good to soft and soft. It should be ideal.”
Whittington confirmed Kelso winner Rouge Vif will not go to Cheltenham, where he holds an engagement in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and will wait for Aintree next month.
The Wantage handler will give him entries in both the two-mile Crabbie’s Top Novices’ Hurdle and the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle over two and a half miles.
“The plan is to go to Aintree. He’ll probably be entered in the two-mile novice hurdle and the two-and-a-half novice hurdle,” said Whittington. “All is good with him.
“I was very pleased with him at Kelso. It was a good performance. He showed plenty of class and hopefully he’ll keep progressing, as he’s progressed a huge amount throughout the season.”