Former jockey Harry Derham says he was thoroughly impressed by Dodging Bullets in a recent gallop as preparations for the Champions Chase at Cheltenham continue.
The eight-year-old recorded a sensational victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival last year when defeating Somersby by a length-and-a-quarter.
However, the gelding has not been in competitive action since that run and this has been down to a splint that has hampered the sire to Dubawi.
The Paul Nicholls-trained charge is close to making a return to action this month and all signs are positive for a run at Newbury a week on Saturday in the Grade 2 Betfair Game Spirit Chase.
Dodging Bullets has been looking good on a recent gallop and Derham, who quit being a jockey back in 2014 after a heavy fall forced his horse to be put down, is happy with the progress being made.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it,” he said. “We galloped two miles and, after sprinting over the last few furlongs, ‘Dodge’ extended and thrilled me and Paul with his performance.”
Dodging Bullets has won his last three outings at Cheltenham, Ascot and Sandown and Nicholls’ star is priced at 10.00 to win the Champion Chase at Prestbury Park in March.
However, there will be lots of other challengers in the field and the legendary Sprinter Sacre is a 6.00 shot to triumph once again while Un De Sceaux is the favourite at 1.83.
The 2014 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Sire De Grugy also possesses great quality and the 10-year-old has slightly longer odds of 13.00, alongside Special Tiara and Simonsig.