Jonjo O’Neill’s six-year-old looked a potential star after defeating Annie Power in a pulsating contest at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but lost his unbeaten record as he trailed home a distant third in the Long Distance Hurdle.
O’Neill hopes an operation will help his charge bounce back when he returns after the turn of the year.
“I don’t know exactly when he’ll have it done, but he’s going to have a wind operation,” said the trainer.
“It’s something we had a few enquiries about last season, but he got away with it. We didn’t need to do anything as long as he was winning.
“I don’t know how long it will be (before he runs again), but it won’t be this side of Christmas. It just depends how he comes back after (the operation).
“We’ll see where we are in the New Year.”
Another incumbent of Jackdaws Castle set a similar procedure is Merry King, who moved ominously into contention in the Hennessy Gold Cup, only to fade into third on the run to the line.
O’Neill said: “He’s getting one (wind operation) done as well. I don’t know how long it will keep him out. It depends what he has done. Hopefully not too long.
“It’s something that stopped him a few times last year. Sometimes he got going again and sometimes he didn’t.
“Hopefully we’ll do a proper job on him and if everything goes well, the aim would be to go for the Grand National.”
The trainer reports potential Cheltenham Gold Cup candidate Holywell to be none the worse after unseating Richie McLernon at Aintree on Saturday.
The seven-year-old struck gold at Cheltenham and Aintree last spring and was not disgraced on his return to action at Carlisle when third behind Hennessy winner Many Clouds and Peterborough Chase runner-up Eduard.
However, his jumping was already below par before he eventually unshipped his rider at the eighth fence on his return to Merseyside.
O’Neill said: “He’s come back fine. It was no race really.
“I don’t know where we’ll go with him next. We’ll wait and see.”
The Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase is the likely next port of call for Mallowney following his heartbreaking defeat at Cork on Sunday.
Tim Doyle’s stable star looked the likely winner of the Grade Two Hilly Way Chase at the Mallow circuit after cruising to the front approaching the final fence, but he was reeled in by Felix Yonger on the run-in and got caught on the line by a nose.
While disappointed to be beaten so narrowly, Doyle feels the run proved his charge is well up to competing at the top level and he is likely to do so again at Leopardstown on December 27.