Jessica Harrington is confident Sizing John will bounce back to his best when he defends his crown in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The eight-year-old provided the Moone-based trainer with a first runner and first winner in the blue riband last March and could hardly have been more impressive when slamming Djakadam on his seasonal reappearance in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase in early December.

However, he suffered his first defeat in six races when finishing a disappointing seventh in the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown less than three weeks later and Harrington has spent the subsequent two months attempting to ensure he will show his true colours on 16 March.

Speaking at a press morning at her yard on Tuesday, Harrington said: "We had a bit of a hiccup over Christmas, but since then we've been chugging along. 

"We haven't done anything very quickly, but you saw this morning he tanked away and all he wanted to do was go past Supasundae.

"His weight is coming down to his racing weight that we like. We've not really put the gun to his head properly, but he did a good breeze on Monday and one this morning.

"He may go to Leopardstown either after racing on Monday or early Tuesday morning. He might jump a couple of fences there or we might just gallop him on the Flat.

"If he does it all on the bridle I'll be very happy as I don't want to put pressure on him. I want him on the day, not the day before and I don't want to be leaving anything behind."

A veterinary report revealed Sizing John to be clinically abnormal after his Leopardstown flop, although the root of the problem was never fully discovered.

Harrington added: "What does clinically abnormal mean? It covers a multitude of things.

"He'd overheated a bit. Whether that was from a slightly tying up or something, they never really found a reason.

"Once that had happened we were never going to run him again before Cheltenham as it would have been very rushed to get him to Leopardstown for the Irish Gold Cup.

"I think the race at Christmas probably came a bit soon after the Durkan. Maybe him and Djakadam had a harder race in the Durkan than either of us realised.

"It was one of those things. We started off the season great and then this goes and scuppers the thing, but if it was all plain sailing it would be much too easy!".