Nigel Twiston-Davies plans to stick to testing conditions with Bristol De Mai in the future following his disappointing effort in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.
Following a remorseless display in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November, the six-year-old was in line for a potential £1million bonus if he could land the Boxing Day showpiece and go on to claim Cheltenham Gold Cup glory in March. However, after cutting out much of the running, the grey weakened quickly to finish sixth of seven finishers.
Twiston-Davies said: "He was very disappointing as I was really happy with him beforehand. Maybe people are right and he just needs that really soft ground. He was 100 per cent this morning, but I don't know what we will do next. We will get him out as soon as it rains. The options are pretty limited. There is Newbury (Denman Chase, February 10) or Cheltenham at the end of next month (Cotswold Chase, January 27), but I've got to sit down with the owners and discuss it. We are still thinking about the Gold Cup and who knows, we might have a soft Cheltenham Gold Cup."
The Naunton-based trainer was far happier with the performance of The New One in the Christmas Hurdle. Turning out just 10 days finishing second when bidding for a fourth victory in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham, the nine-year-old found only Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D'Air too strong.
Twiston-Davies added: "He was really good and he was not far behind the reigning Champion Hurdle winner. He seems to be as good as ever. The race was an afterthought. As soon as we saw Faugheen was not coming over, we thought we would have a go. It turned out to be a valuable £25,000 afterthought! He will go to Haydock now for the Champion Hurdle Trial (January 20) then he will probably go for the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham. We've had a crack against Buveur D'Air and I can't see us beating Faugheen. The staying division looks much more open this year."