Energumene appears firmly on course for Cheltenham after emerging in good shape from a schooling session at Navan on Saturday.
Much attention had surrounded the Willie Mullins-trained gelding earlier in the week, with a marked drift on the betting exchanges sparking concern over his well-being.
It transpired he had suffered a stone bruise, but fears he may not make his eagerly-awaited rematch with Shishkin in the Queen Mother Champion Chase were played down by connections, and his effort after racing at Navan – and subsequent upbeat report on Sunday from Mullins – indicates the big clash remains very much on.
Mullins said: “Energumene pulled out well this morning. He did a canter and I was very pleased.”
Dual Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo was another in action at Navan, as was Stayers’ Hurdle contender Klassical Dream.
Mullins added: “All the other horses (that worked at Navan) are well also.”
Energumene is a best-priced 4-1 chance for the Champion Chase behind the odds-on Shishkin, with the latter having come out on top by a length in an epic duel for the Clarence House Chase at Ascot in January.