The 2010 Champion Hurdle winner has not been seen since landing his second Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day, and trainer Nicky Henderson had been hoping to give his charge one more run before the Festival.
But with an intended run at Sandown earlier this month scuppered by frost and options now running out, connections have decided to complete the gelding’s Cheltenham preparations at home.
“He won’t be going to Kelso and he’ll go straight to Cheltenham now,” said Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus.
“Nicky is happy with him at the moment and doesn’t think it will be a problem.
“Hopefully we have a trouble-free run and the horse gets there in top form.”
Menorah and Captain Chris are both back on track for Cheltenham after brushing up their jumping with Yogi Breisner.
Trainer Philip Hobbs sent them to Breisner for lessons after having had jumping issues this season.
The pair returned to Hobbs’ Minehead stables last week and have reportedly schooled well since ahead of Menorah’s tilt at the Arkle Trophy and Captain Chris at the Betfred Gold Cup or Ryanair Chase.
“Both have schooled with Richard (Johnson) again this morning and they schooled very well,” Hobbs told At The Races.
“He’s schooled them on two occasions since they’ve been back and they’ve been careful which is good to start with.
“Yogi got them to think about what they were doing before. In Menorah’s case it’s a good thing he’s slightly more careful.
“If he jumps well he must have a very good chance (in the Arkle).”
Hobbs admitted he is not sure if Captain Chris will stay the three and a quarter miles of the Gold Cup.
“He’s not going to Ascot on Saturday. Richard (Johnson) has schooled him and we probably want a bit more time, a bit more physio, and more schooling. Hopefully we’ll get him back on track for Cheltenham. He won’t run before then,” Hobbs explained.
“It’s very likely the Gold Cup for him, but possibly the Ryanair.
Finding the optimum trip is also a concern with Wishfull Thinking, but Hobbs is happy to aim him at the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival next month.
“Realistically three of his four runs this season have been disastrous and the run at Kempton when he was second was very good indeed. He’s more confusing than Captain Chris,” he said.
“The only thing we can put it down to is his breathing. We’ve done what we can with that so I think he’s going to go straight for the Champion Chase due to lack of options.”
Meanwhile, David Pipe is no hurry to decide on Grands Crus’ target at Cheltenham after confirming the talented grey will not run again before the Festival.
Grands Crus, winner of the Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, is ante-post favourite for the RSA Chase but is also prominent in the betting for the biggest race of the four-day meeting. the Betfred Gold Cup.
The Nicholashayne trainer had planned to give the seven-year-old a prep outing at Newbury last Saturday, but that was lost to the cold snap.
And he resisted the temptation of giving him an entry in the Sodexo Prestige Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot at the weekend.