Returning star Topofthegame to be aimed at Ladbrokes Trophy

All roads lead to next year's Cheltenham Gold Cup for star performer Topofthegame.

Paul Nicholls' 2019 RSA Novices' Chase winner missed the most recent season with a leg injury.

While most National Hunt horses are winding down for a summer break, after the season was finished by the coronavirus pandemic, the eight-year-old is ticking over at Ditcheat.

For the past few weeks, he has been enjoying light exercise before he is sent out to grass during the warmer weather.

"Topofthegame has been doing well and the type of horse he is, missing a season won't have done him any harm," Nicholls said.

"He had a tiny tendon strain before the start of the season.

"For the past month he has done his road work, including trotting up the hill at Ditcheat four times a day.

"He has also been making good use of the walker.

"We have two weeks to go and then he will be out to grass until July 1."

A 20/1 shot for the Cheltenham Festival feature next March, Topofthegame pipped Santini and Delta Work at the meeting in his novice campaign.

Those two rivals have backed up the form in Grade One company subsequently.

Santini and Colin Tizzard's Lostintranslation, who Topofthegame chased home at the 2019 Grand National meeting, were snapping at the heels of Al Boum Photo in this year's Gold Cup.

Nicholls is aiming Chris Giles and Paul Barber's chaser at the same race his 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Denman took twice, on his return next season.

"The idea is to start him off in the Ladbrokes Trophy if everything goes right," the 11-times champion trainer added.

"Going forward the Gold Cup will be the big aim.

"His form with Delta Work and Santini puts him right in the mix."

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