Minella Indo and A Plus Tard likely to stay apart next month

Cheltenham Gold Cup winner will potentially take a crack at Punchestown Gold Cup

First-placed jockey Jack Kennedy on Minella Indo (C), third-placed jockey Paul Townend on Al Boum Photo (L) and second-placed jockey Rachael Blackmore on A Plus Tard react after the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup. Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images

First-placed jockey Jack Kennedy on Minella Indo (C), third-placed jockey Paul Townend on Al Boum Photo (L) and second-placed jockey Rachael Blackmore on A Plus Tard react after the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup. Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images

 

Minella Indo and A Plus Tard – first and second in Friday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup – are set to be split between Aintree and Punchestown next month.

Their trainer Henry de Bromhead has indicated A Plus Tard’s preference for racing left-handed could see him take on Tiger Roll in the Betway Bowl at Aintree.

That looks to leave the way open for Minella Indo to wait for the Gold Cup at Punchestown later in April.

“A Plus Tard’s form is ridiculously better on left-handed tracks so if he’s well we’re considering Aintree for him.

“That (going left-handed) limits him but the race at Haydock (Betfair Chase) could be a lovely race for him in the autumn.

“When you have two horses like that you’d love to try and keep them apart as best you can,” De Bromhead reported on Sunday.

“Minella Indo kept staying and I’m not sure we’ve seen the half of him. He’s so tough. I haven’t really spoken to Barry (Maloney, the owner) about plans but Punchestown would be great if he seems good. I think we should strongly consider Punchestown,” he added.

The Co Waterford trainer, currently in the midst of five days isolation due to Covid-19 restrictions on his return from Cheltenhan, also didn’t rule out a potential chasing career for his Champion Hurdle winner, Honeysuckle.

The legendary Dawn Run is the only horse to complete the Champion Hurdle - Gold Cup double (1984-86) and Honeysuckle’s owner Kenny Alexander has admitted considering trying to emulate that feat with his mare.

Valuable mare

“It’s something we will have to give a lot of thought to and ultimately it comes down to Kenny.

“She’s an extremely valuable mare. There’s probably a little bit more risk over fences but without wanting to tempt fate she goes off loose every Sunday morning in our indoor school and she takes off and goes off jumping for sport.

“Every Sunday morning she jumps a chase fences about four times and she loves it.

“I haven’t actually schooled over fences outside but she’s a point-to-point winner and makes that shape over hurdles.

“So if Kenny said he’d like to go chasing I think it’s something we all need to discuss, the pros and cons and ultimately it’s down to Kenny to decide what he wants to do,” de Bromhead said.

There are no de Bromhead runners lining up at Navan on Monday but Rachael Blackmore continues her quest to narrow the gap to Paul Townend in the jockeys championship with two rides.

She teams up with Mouse Morris for an interesting runner in the opening maiden hurdle.

Caesar Park failed to make the frame in his only start over flights to date but now sports first-time cheekpieces and the woman of the moment.

Drying ground should suit the regally bred Coventry in another maiden.

The son of Galileo and the Irish Oaks winner Moonstone fell on his first outing for Paul Nolan but ran an encouraging race prior to that at Puncehstown on New Year’s Eve.

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