Katchit: Champion Hurdle hero has failed to sparkle in three runs this termPICTURE: Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images
Katchit to be given break in bid to reinvigorate him
KATCHIT, winner of last year's Champion Hurdle, is to be given a month's break away from trainer Alan King's Barbury Castle base in a bid to reinvigorate him before his title defence at Cheltenham in March.
King decided on the move after Katchit finished fourth to Binocular in last month's Ascot Hurdle, and the six-year-old will start his short holiday soon.
Alan King: Katchit still in the mixPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
King said on Thursday: "Katchit will leave the yard shortly to be given a month's break at an away destination to freshen him up.
"I blame myself for running him at Wincanton [in the Elite Hurdle]. I wanted to give him some match practice but in hindsight it wasn't the greatest move. However, I do think he's still in the mix for the Champion. He's not firing at the moment, but that can change."
King is considering dropping King George VI Chase third Voy Por Ustedes to 2m for his next outing, with theTotepool Game Spirit Chase at Newbury on February 7 a possible target.
He added: "He'll have one more outing before Cheltenham, which will either be the Ascot Chase over two miles three [on February 14] or the Game Spirit.
"I have slight doubts as to whether he's as good going right-handed, and at the end of the day his major target will be back at Aintree in April. He'll run in the Ryanair Chase or the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival."
Halcon Genelardais acquitted himself with credit to be third to Notre Pere under top weight in the Welsh National, and has the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup on his agenda.
King said: "It was an awesome run and I'd be keen to let him take his chance in the Gold Cup, especially if we had a wet March. He'll either go straight for the Gold Cup or run at Cheltenham on January 24."
King said his other Welsh National runner, Nenuphar Collonges, who was seventh, was let down by his jumping. He could go for the John Smith's Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter on March 14 or run over hurdles.