Champ will line up for a rematch with Cleeve Hurdle winner Paisley Park after Nicky Henderson opted to keep the Grade 1 winner over hurdles for this year's Cheltenham Festival.
The ten-year-old was scratched from the entries for the Gold Cup on Tuesday and will instead head for the Stayers' Hurdle on March 17th, where he is priced 6/1 to overturn his second place in the Cleeve Hurdle for owner JP McManus.
"We've decided Champ will stay over hurdles, so we took him out of the Gold Cup," Henderson said. "I just think Champ finds jumping hurdles easier. He's had a few issues and it makes life better for him."
After being pulled up in last year's Gold Cup, the switch back to hurdles proved a fruitful endeavour after Champ made a winning return in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December.
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He was last seen on Cheltenham Trials day in January, where he finished a gallant second when sent off favourite in the Cleeve Hurdle in a thrilling victory for Paisley Park, who initially refused to race but rallied in impressive fashion to win by three and a quarter lengths.
"He was better at Ascot than he was last time at Cheltenham, but it was a good race the other day with Paisley Park, so we'll have to have another rendezvous with him," Henderson added.
"I was most impressed with him in the Long Walk Hurdle, he was very good that day and we just need to get him back that way."
Despite the absence of Champ in Cheltenham's Friday showpiece, Henderson and McManus will still be represented in the Gold Cup by Chantry House, who was a resounding winner of the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase in January.
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