Carruthers is set to bid to repeat last year’s win in the Burns Pet Nutrition West Wales National at Ffos Las on Saturday, February 1 after finishing a gallant second to Shotgun Paddy in the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick.

Making his seasonal reappearance in the gruelling stamina test on Saturday, the 11-year-old, trained by Mark Bradstock at Letcombe Bassett, near Wantage, made much off the running under Nico de Boinville, before being beaten six lengths by Emma Lavelle’s charge.

Bradstock had mixed emotions after seeing his 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup hero finish runner-up.

He said: “I always feel second is the worst place in the world to be.

“If you are down the field it’s back to the drawing board. Being second is not what I really enjoy, but saying that he is a star.

“It is just great to see him as an 11-year-old still being very competitive in these big races.

“He doesn’t lack any enthusiasm and jumps for fun and puts them to the sword.”

While a trip to Wales is on the agenda for Carruthers’ next start, the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown is his main spring target.