Sizing John will chart a direct route towards the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

Jessica Harrington's eight-year-old was in the frame to run beforehand in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on 4 February - a race he won 12 months ago.

But his trainer told the Daily Mirror: "He's going to go straight to the Gold Cup.

"I'd rather go there fresh and well. He's in good form, he looks good and he's been back cantering this week."

Sizing John made a spectacular winning return in the John Durkan at Punchestown last month, but was then a bitter disappointment in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase.

Harrington said: "Nothing came to light that you could hang your hat on. I just think the race came too soon.

"It didn't look like he had a hard race (at Punchestown), but these things can be deceptive - both him and Djakadam (John Durkan runner-up) ran flat at Leopardstown last time."