Kemboy satisfied Willie Mullins with his return to action in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.
The seven-year-old finished a close fourth on his first outing since beating stablemate and Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo at Punchestown almost eight months ago.
Kemboy lost his position as outright favourite for this season’s Gold Cup — but Mullins expects him to improve for Saturday’s run when he next appears, which is likely to be in the Unibet Irish Gold Cup in February.
“All the horses came out of the Savills Chase fine, and we’re happy with Kemboy and Bellshill,” he said.
“I’m delighted for Bellshill’s owner Graham Wylie, who got a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours list.
“I expect them both to step forward for the run - they’ll have to.
“This time last year, Kemboy had a run under his belt, so he surely should improve.”
Asked if the Irish Gold Cup could be next, Mullins added: “It would look the obvious target at the moment.
“Al Boum Photo will go down to Tramore with a few others (on New Year’s Day), and I hope we’ll still have a few standing for the Gold Cup when this week is over.”
One horse who was significantly absent from Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting was Benie Des Dieux — and she may now go straight to Cheltenham.
“Benie is in good form but just not straight enough to run this week, so we left her at home,” said Mullins.
“She might just go straight to Cheltenham.
“We could go to the Galmoy Hurdle or something like that. Last year she went straight to Cheltenham, but last year was funny with the ground.”