Hughes, who won the race as a jockey on Monksfield in 1979 and already twice as a trainer with dual winner Hardy Eustace (2004-05), is banking on a return to Prestbury Park as the springboard to enable his five-year-old to turn the tables on the current champion, Hurricane Fly.
Our Conor has twice come up short against Willie Mullins’ record breaking hurdler this season, but he got much closer in the Irish Champion Hurdle last time out and Hughes feels Cheltenham in tailor-made for his stable star.
“Our Conor is fabulous at the moment,” Hughes said.
“I wish the race were next week, he’s so well.
“The thing about our horse is that he excels at Cheltenham.
“His win in the Triumph was exceptionally good and we are hoping he can repeat that performance again this year.
“Hopefully, he is in the same frame of mind.”
* Bally Legend is likely to bypass Cheltenham and head for Aintree following his surprise victory in the BetBright Chase at Kempton last Saturday.
The nine-year-old’s trainer Caroline Keevil reports her stable star to have taken that 28-1 success in his stride but feels the Byrne Group Plate at the Festival may come too soon. The Listed Aintree Handicap Chase on Grand National day or a race at Cheltenham’s meeting in mid-April could be his next port of call.
“It (Cheltenham) is very unlikely at this stage. It’s too soon, even though he’s come out of it very well,” the Dorset handler said.
“There’s a three-mile-one chase at Aintree on National Day, or we could even wait for a Cheltenham race after the Festival. He’s very well and it’s a nice position to be in.”