Many Clouds, who carries the colours of Preston North End owner Trevor Hemmings, will swerve the Cheltenham Gold Cup before he once again sets sail for Aintree’s Grand National in April.
The reigning National hero made a quiet return to action, when sixth in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last month, and is due to run in the Betfred Lotto £100K Cash Giveaway Chase back at Aintree on Saturday over the Mildmay fences.
Oliver Sherwood’s eight-year-old finished sixth in the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival last season before winning the National a month later.
Connections will, however, not follow the tried-and-route this Spring.
Sherwood said: “He won’t run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup this season – I am 99 per cent certain of that.
“Last season, there was a four-week gap between Cheltenham and Aintree – I think there are three weeks this year which is too close.
“He does need time between his races.
“Where we go after Saturday, I am open at the moment – the Denman Chase at Newbury is one of the possibilities.
“I am guessing it will be one race, maximum two, after Saturday and then the Grand National but I need to see how he goes on Saturday.
“I would love to get a win into him to give us all a bit of confidence ahead of Aintree in April.
“The huge advantage this season is that I don’t have to protect his handicap mark because he can only carry one pound more.
“I want to keep the dream still alive for next April and his race programme is geared to that.
“I want Many Clouds to have as easy a time as possible building up to the Grand National in April but he must have the competitiveness, meaning he has got to have the races, which is necessary.”