Willie Mullins has confirmed that dual Cheltenham Festival winner Yorkhill is now being aimed at the Queen Mother Champion Chase for this year's extravaganza in the Cotswolds in March.
Yorkhill had been touted as a potential Gold Cup contender for Ireland's champion trainer, who has yet to win the Blue Ribband.
He attempted three miles for the first time in his career at Leopardstown over Christmas and came home a disappointing last of eight finishers in the Grade One Leopardstown Christmas Chase.
We'll go down the two-mile chase route and if that doesn't work we'll go back to hurdling.Willie Mullins
The Andrea and Graham Wylie-owned eight-year-old is set for a dramatic drop in distance, with Mullins set to try and capitalise on his speed rather than attempting to draw out his stamina.
Major doubts surround Mullins' potential Queen Mother contenders Douvan and Min, but that is now the target for Yorkhill, the Closutton supremo has confirmed.
"If we think he's Champion Hurdle class we could have a potential Champion Chase horse," reasoned Mullins. "We'll go down the two-mile chase route and if that doesn't work we'll go back to hurdling."
Yorkhill can be backed at 1/1 to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on 14th March.
He'll get the chance to showcase his potential over the trip at next month's Dublin Racing Festival when he returns to Leopardstown.
"I'm happy enough for him to run at the festival [Grade 2 Coral Dublin Chase] a fortnight on Saturday and take it from there," the trainer added.
"There's no real alternative. I never thought he was a Gold Cup horse. I thought he was a Champion Hurdle horse. If he was very hard to ride in a two-mile race, how are you going to ride him in a three-mile-two race around Cheltenham?"
Last season's Arkle winner Altior, yet to race this term, is 1/1 to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase while Douvan is 11/4.
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