Colin Tizzard expects Cue Card to have just three more runs before heading into retirement, with the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day looking increasingly unlikely.
He was in the frame for the Christmas showpiece earlier in the week and was briefly considered for the rearranged Peterborough Chase.
However, following talks with owner Jean Bishop, Tizzard is now leaning towards the Ascot Grade One he won in February last year.
"We probably won't run Cue Card in the King George. Talking to Jean Bishop, we will just mind him. The King George is red hot," said Tizzard.
"We considered going to Taunton, but we decided not to. He had a hard old race at Haydock (second to Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase). We just want to have three runs in the spring, then retire him. I think that's what we will do."
He added: "We will go to the Ascot Chase, then either the Ryanair or Gold Cup and then on to Aintree. Then I will have him as my hunter."