Sir Des Champs has come up short in both his starts in senior company this term, but Willie Mullins remains optimistic that a return to Cheltenham in March will bring about the necessary improvement in the one-time Betfred Gold Cup favourite.
A winner at the Festival for the past two years, the Gigginstown Stud-owned seven-year-old was easily held when second to Flemenstar on his Punchestown reappearance, before posting a more encouraging effort to overcome early fencing errors when staying on for a close fourth in the Lexus Chase.
"I haven't lost faith in him," Mullins said. "We have the Irish Hennessy (next Saturday). He's been good at Cheltenham the two times he has raced there, so I am hoping it will all click into place on the day."
At 5/1, Sir Des Champs is still the clear second favourite for Gold Cup glory behind Bobs Worth, while he shares Hennessy favouritism with Flemenstar at 7/4.
Meanwhile, Tom Cooper has confirmed that Forpadydeplasterer will run in the Derrygrath Chase at Clonmel on Thursday ahead of a tilt at the Aintree Grand National, though Arthur Moore has revealed that his 2011 Irish Grand National winner Organisedconfusion will not run again this term after picking up an injury.