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Champion Court cheltenham 01/01/2012

Champion Court: set make seasonal return in the Ascot's Amlin Chase

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (  

Ryanair Chase target for classy Champion Court

TRAINER Martin Keighley has nominated the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival as Champion Court's big end-of-season target.

The 155-rated seven-year-old, who finished second to unbeaten jumps star Sir Des Champs in the Jewson Novices' Chase in March, will miss this weekend's Paddy Power Gold Cup after he scoped dirty earlier this month.

He had some excellent form last season, including a 13-length second to Charlie Hall Chase hero Silviniaco Conti in the John Smith's Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree on his final start of the campaign.

And his trainer, quoted in an exclusive Weekender stable tour, has reported Champion Court to be on course for his seasonal debut in the Grade 2 Amlin 1965 Chase on November 24, before revealing the Ryanair next March could be his main objective this season.

Keighley said: "I was desperately keen to run him in this Saturday's Paddy Power Gold Cup. However, he scoped dirty early last week so we had to scrap that plan.

"Thankfully everything is great again and the piece of work he did at the weekend was quite superb, so it is all systems go now for the following weekend in the Amlin Chase at Ascot.

"Obviously that is a conditions chase, but he is so well that we need to get him out. Last season he ran left-handed each time but despite running some cracking races I just feel he is possibly suited better to going clockwise.

"At the moment, assuming everything goes right for him, then I would be looking to the Ryanair Chase as a serious target."

Champion Court is available at 16-1 with William Hill and Paddy Power for the Ryanair Chase.

To read Martin Keighley's thoughts on his promising string, pick up a copy of the Weekender - available to buy from Wednesday

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