Solwhit waits for next season

Charles Byrnes has ruled out bringing Solwhit back in the spring and is looking forward to next season with his champion staying hurdler.

Solwhit waits for next season

The winner of last season’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham was forced to miss his intended first run of the winter at Leopardstown over Christmas due to a fetlock injury.

Cheltenham in March was deemed off the radar earlier this month, but while the injury is not serious, Byrnes is resisting the temptation to get the eight-times Grade One winner ready for Aintree or Punchestown.

“He’s fine, but I’d say we have no plans really to run again him this season. We’ll save him for next year,” said the County Limerick trainer.

“We could bring him back later for Punchestown but I wouldn’t see much point in that. We’ll try him again next year and have another full season with him.”

Meanwhile Aidan O’Brien’s Plinth will aim to confirm himself a realistic Triumph Hurdle contender by running in the Gala Retail Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown on February 9.

The four-year-old made a winning debut in the colours of JP McManus when getting the better of the Willie Mullins-trained Ivan Grozny by a head in a Leopardstown thriller over the Christmas period.

Ivan Grozny now heads ante-post lists for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival after blowing away his rivals at Naas earlier this month, while Plinth is available at double the price at 20-1.

McManus’ racing manager Frank Berry believes it would be dangerous to take the Leopardstown form too literally, however.

He said: “He’ll have a run at Leopardstown on Hennessy day and we’ll know a bit more about him after that.

“He’ll get an entry in the Triumph, but we’ll see how he gets on next time.

“I’d say the horse that finished second to him at Christmas improved a lot for the run and jumped much better next time.

“You can look at these things too closely sometimes, but Aidan is happy with the horse and we’ll see what happens on Hennessy day.”

George Charlton plans to give his shock Cleeve Hurdle winner Knockara Beau a run at Kelso next month before going for glory in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The 11-year-old claimed the scalps of champion staying hurdler Big Buck’s as well as other top-class performers At Fishers Cross and Reve De Sivola when providing a 66-1 turn-up at Cheltenham on Saturday and all roads lead back there for the blue riband on March 14.

“We’d been trying there for quite some time and we finally got one to come right. It was fantastic and I’m still on cloud nine,” said the Northumberland trainer.

“He’s come out of it perfect. We’re giving him a couple of easy days just on the horse walk machine and he’ll be back exercising on Tuesday.

“The plan is to go to Kelso for the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase on February 13.

“We’ll see what we get out of that and then we’ll probably go for an outsider’s chance in the Gold Cup.

“We were sixth in it once with him (in 2012) but I think he’s in better form now. For some reason the horses have improved this year.

“He ran OK in it. It’s a hell of a race and they’ve got to be on the best day of their life that day (for the Gold Cup). The wheels of some of them have got to come off to a certain extent, but you’ve got to be in it.”

My Tent Or Yours will bypass this weekend’s Betfred “Double Delight” Contenders Hurdle at Sandown and instead head for the Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on February 15.

Narrowly beaten in last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by Champagne Fever before bolting up at Aintree, the JP McManus-owned seven-year-old has confirmed himself a genuine Champion Hurdle hope with triumphs in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and Christmas Hurdle at Kempton so far this term.

Trainer Nicky Henderson is keen to get one more run into his charge before his trip to Prestbury Park in March, but the owner’s racing manager, Frank Berry, has revealed this weekend’s trial has already been ruled out.

Berry said: “I’ve spoken to Nicky this afternoon and the plan is for My Tent Or Yours to go to Wincanton. He definitely won’t go to Sandown.”

There had been reports on yesterday morning Henderson was concerned about the health of some of his string, suggesting the champion trainer had isolated My Tent Or Yours and some of his other stable stars to reduce the chance of them picking up any ailments.

“Nicky tells me the horse is in very good form and he couldn’t be happier with him. I didn’t go any further than that. That’s all I wanted to know,” said Berry.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox