DEFENDING Gold Cup champ Native River will go straight to Cheltenham without a prep run.
The nine-year-old was due to have his final start before the Festival in the Denman Chase at Newbury, but equine flu meant the race had to be cancelled.
Although the contest has been rearranged by the BHA for this Saturday, trainer Colin Tizzard has decided his stable star will have a racecourse gallop instead.
He said: “We won’t run Native River at Ascot on Saturday. He looked awkward at Kempton going right-handed and we have now taken him there twice.
“He has won over fences going right-handed, but that was a four-runner race at Exeter and that is a big, galloping track.
“He is fit and ready to go. It is only a month away from the Gold Cup and we are getting to close to it.
“He definitely jumps better left-handed and we want him in the best shape for the Gold Cup.”
He added: “We will give him a racecourse gallop at Wincanton or Larkhill. We have got plenty of places to go and we will do that away day next week, I imagine.
“We might do it twice, but not necessarily have a flat-out gallop.
“Last season he only had one run before the Gold Cup and this season he has had two, so we are on par.”