Plans are on hold for Teaforthree after he missed a run at Warwick yesterday because of a bruised foot.
The 11-year-old was set to compete in the Willoughby De Broke Open Hunters' Chase as trainer Rebecca Curtis plotted a route towards the Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
A return to Aintree for the Crabbie’s Grand National – he suffered an injury at the Chair last April, but finished third in the race in 2013 – is again the conditional aim. But his preparation will need to be revised after he suffered a late setback ahead of his seasonal debut.
Curtis said: “It’s nothing serious, he’s just slightly tender on one of his feet. We schooled him on Wednesday and whether he did something then, I’m not sure. He’ll be fine in a couple of days.
“There’s a hunter chase at Wincanton next Thursday he could run in. I’d like to get him qualified for the Foxhunter as I think that race would suit him perfectly and then we’d hope to go on to the National.
Make sense “
The reason we’ve decided to go hunting with him is that he’d have top weight in any handicap and at his age and the fact he hasn’t won for so long, we thought it would make sense.”
Meanwhile, Curtis’s At Fishers Cross will swerve the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham tomorrow.
Owned by JP McManus, At Fishers Cross has not won since his novice days but finished third behind More Of That and Annie Power in last season's World Hurdle.
He was last seen finishing fourth behind Lieutenant Colonel at Leopardstown, after which he stayed here for a short spell for some treatment as he returned “slightly sore”.
There is a possibility At Fishers Cross could now run in the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock, but that race has already been mooted as a possible comeback date for the fellow McManus-owned More Of That. “He’s not going to run this weekend now,” said Curtis. “There’s a race for him at Haydock and he might go there next.”
Elsewhere, Evan Williams is keeping his fingers crossed conditions at Cheltenham do not deteriorate to allow On Tour line up in tomorrow's Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.
Since being beaten on his hurdling debut at Worcester last summer, the seven-year-old has racked up a hat-trick of wins, most recently a valuable handicap hurdle at Haydock.
Williams said: “He is grand at the moment and I would like to run him if I can, otherwise I will probably wait for the Betfair Hurdle. I know that is only two miles but, if I wasn’t happy with the ground at Cheltenham, I would wait until then.”