Castle Mane to miss out

 

Last season's Christie's Foxhunter Chase winner Castle Mane will not bid for a repeat in this year's race at the Cheltenham Festival.

Castle Mane, who also won at Punchestown last term and was at one time quoted as short as 20 to 1 for the Gold Cup, has disappointed on his two starts this term.

He has been undergoing tests since going down by 13 lengths to Real Value at Newbury last Friday and his trainer Caroline Bailey said: "He won't be going to Cheltenham. The muscle enzyme in his blood is all wrong and he won't run for a month."

Dermot Weld has stressed that a decision on which race Stage Affair will bid for at the Festival will be left until the last possible moment.

Stage Affair, a former smart Flat performer who has taken well to hurdles this season and finished second to current champion Istabraq at Leopardstown last time, is entered in the Capel Cure Sharp Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Smurfit Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the meeting.

"I'll leave making a decision until very close to the day," Weld said. "The decision will be greatly influenced by the ground (Stage Affair prefers good ground). Both races are on Tuesday so I can leave a decision until as late as possible."

Stage Affair's build-up to the Festival has gone well and Weld added: "His preparation has been perfect - no problems."

Weld will also run Moving On Up at Cheltenham. "Moving On Up will go for the County Hurdle," he said. "He has 10 st 2 lb. but I haven't made any riding arrangements yet because it depends on what Martin Pipe runs and if the weights go up.