Willie Mullins is considering next month's John Durkan Memorial Chase as a starting point for his exciting prospect Sir Des Champs.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned six-year-old is ante-post favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup after going through his novice season unbeaten, winning at the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals in the spring.
However, his Gold Cup credentials would be given an early test if Mullins opted to go to Punchestown on December 9 as the hugely talented Flemenstar is heading in that direction too, after making a winning return in Sunday's Fortria Chase.
"I imagine we are gearing this year towards the Gold Cup. He'll probably start off in the John Durkan and he's entered in the King George, but he'll be entered in Leopardstown (the Lexus Chase) at Christmas, too," said Mullins.
The champion trainer believes Sir Des Champs' biggest asset heading into this season is that he is so settled, something that can prove crucial in long-distance chases.
"He's a lovely big horse, he's built to carry 12 stones over three miles, which is ideally what you want in a chaser," Mullins told At The Races.
"I think the key to him is that he's so relaxed. I've never seen him at full strength or full speed, he just does what he has to do. That's just the way he is I think.
"We'll just plot a course as it comes between now and March. There are various races we can go for, but we'll see how he gets through his first race and then plan the second one.
"I don't like having a map the whole way out, we'll take each day as it comes, because you don't know what's going to happen from one day to the next.
"You might have to change plans, the horse might get sick, he might get lame, all sorts of things can happen, which is why I prefer to take it one race at a time."
20 October 2014No rushing back for Long Run
Dynaste leads Old Roan contenders
Grands Crus retired
Chelmsford City handed 58 fixtures
Exciting Berlais heads to Chepstow
Force handed Hong Kong mission
Park favourite for Trophy hunt
Al Kazeem team eye Hong Kong trip
Alderwood to take two-mile test
Dynaste leads Old Roan contenders
Commemorative bound for Breeders'
Hennessy aim for Clouds
Slade eyeing victorious swansong
Fiesolana on Breeders' trail
High-class possibilities for Trophy
Chelmsford City handed 57 fixtures
French option for Maarek
Billy back for chasing bow
Judge to bid for Breeders' glory
Pipe mulls Moon target
High hopes for Holywell
Judge in Breeders' frame
Hill stars for Stoute and Moore
Gabriel lifts Garnet for Deegan
New One back with a win
Light career hangs in balance
Stars shines on hurdling debut
King big guns ready to start
Tullius camp consider options
Doyle unlikely to appeal Ascot ban
Mullins prepares formidable team
19 October 2014New One breezes to victory
Lavelle has Becher plan for Lodge
Riches heading on road north
Down Royal plan for Tiger
New makes Kempton return
Panther hunting Canadian prize
Sun takes a shine to Cork
Hobbs upholds Showcase record
Another gold strike for Bronze
Gallant Noble a true Champion
Head turns on Charm in QEII
Madame is Ascot leading lady
Forgotten rules for Weld
Byron is poetry in motion
18 October 2014Forgotten rules for Weld
War misses Breeders' date
Rakti reaps Caulfield reward
Chatez bids for Balmoral crown
Lavelle duo top Cheltenham card
Integral takes on the boys
Noble on Champion mission
Belardo a Dewhurst sparkler
Together stands firm for Ballydoyle
Ivawood felled by plucky Thought
Crowley doubles up on Berkshire
Tendon injury sidelines Tent
17 October 2014Minstrel calls the tune
Sceaux set for chase campaign
Sari seeking Ascot gold
Charm out to show winning Spirit
Estimate aiming to go the Distance
French veteran back for more
O'Meara - G has the Force
Fallon considers American switch
Cossack maintains Elliott's record
Vautour goes chasing
Lucida heads Godolphin trio
McCoy sits out weekend action
No Middle ground for classy Ivawood
Big guns hold sway for QEII
Cirrus stands firm for Champion
Hanagan: Estidhkaar no soft touch