Colin Tizzard is keen to keep his options open with Thistlecrack as he plots his imminent return to action.
The 10-year-old has run just three times since winning the 2016 King George VI Chase and has not been seen in competitive action since finishing fourth behind Might Bite when defending his crown at Kempton on Boxing Day of last year.
Tizzard had hoped to see his charge return in last Saturday’s Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, but the prevailing fast ground in West Yorkshire forced connections back to the drawing board.
Thistlecrack has handicap options in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday week and the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on December 1.
He would have to concede weight all round in both races, but if he does not run in either he will likely clash with his Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning stablemate Native River in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on November 24
Speaking at Newbury on Thursday, Tizzard said: “We’ve just covered all possibilities because of the ground. It is not that he won’t go on good to firm – it just might jar him up for the season.
“We are not averse to running in the Ladbrokes Trophy off top-weight, but I think the owners would probably like to go to Haydock and take on Native River and Might Bite and all them.
“You have to remember it was only 18 months ago he was the best horse around, then he had the leg problem after the Cotswold Chase and we were on the back foot last season.
“Now we’ve had a good run with him and at home he is as good as he’s ever been.
“It is his last season at the top, I’d say, and we have to make sure we get it right, so that’s why we are keeping all the options open.
“Horses like him have won a Ladbrokes Trophy off top-weight. He is a big, heavy boy and he would carry the weight.”