Byrnes: Solwhit set to bypass Cheltenham

CHARLES BYRNES has confirmed it is “more than likely” stable star Solwhit will bypass the Cheltenham Festival in favour of a trip to Aintree in April.

The seven-year-old had to settle for second to Hurricane Fly for the third successive time in last weekend’s Irish Champion Hurdle, and Byrnes sees little point in letting his charge line up in the English equivalent.

There is still a chance he could step up to three miles for the first time and tackle Big Buck’s in the World Hurdle, but Byrnes currently prefers waiting for the Aintree Hurdle over two and a half miles, which he won in 2009.

“He came out of the race well and he’s going to have a break now for a couple of weeks,” said Byrnes.

“He ran another good race and we were very happy with him again.

“The Champion Hurdle is definitely out for him now. It’s more than likely we’ll wait for Aintree, but he has the World Hurdle as option if we want it.”

Meanwhile, the Irish challenge for the Irish Indepedent Arkle Chase at Cheltenham could include Realt Dubh, while Willie Mullins has entered four - Mikael D'Haguenet, Quel Esprit, Morning Supreme and Blazing Tempo.

Starluck, who has never run over fences and was third to Binocular in the rearranged Christmas Hurdle at Kempton last time, was among 34 entries unveiled yesterday.

Ghizao and Finian’s Ranbow head the market at around 5-1 and were also among the entries.

Ante-post favourite Time For Rupert, among 51 entries for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, scoped badly yesterday and is out of tomorrow’s Argento Chase at Cheltenham.

Trainer Paul Webber said: “He’ll have five days on antibiotics and a quiet week, then we’ll build him up and look again. He’ll go straight to Cheltenham for the RSA Chase.”

Top-class performer Mikael D’Haguenet is one of five RSA Chase entries for Willie Mullins.

The Irish champion trainer, successful in this race with Florida Pearl in 1998, Rule Supreme in 2004 and Cooldine in 2009, also has Quel Esprit and Blazing Tempo as notable entries.

Wymott, Hell’s Bay, Wayward Prince and Jessies Dream are other leading fancies, with a total of 23 entries hailing from Ireland.

Loosen My Load looks best suited to the 2m4f of the Jewson Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, trainer Henry De Bromhead has explained, with the seven-year-old not entered for the RSA Chase.

Loosen My Load, fourth to Realt Dubh in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown in December, featured among 65 candidates for the Jewson.

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