The impressive Feltham Novices’ Chase winner was due to take on his elders at Cheltenham last weekend in the race won by Many Clouds, but a late minor setback forced connections into plan B.
Well fancied for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham, an ambitious tilt at the Gold Cup will be considered were he to win well at the Berkshire track.
“He just had a slight tweak which meant we couldn’t run last week, so we’ll go to Newbury instead,” said trainer Mark Bradstock’s wife, Sara.
“The only disappointing thing about it all is that Nico can’t ride as he’s suspended.
“However, we’ve been on to Dave Roberts (agent) and he thinks we can have AP (McCoy) so he’s not a bad substitute.
“We’ll go for the Denman because I think he needs a shot at these older horses before we decide which way we head at the Festival.
“It’s an open year. The favourite (Silviniaco Conti) has already had two cracks at the Gold Cup and not won, so if we win we’d feel stupid not being in it.”
Meanwhile, Carruthers will miss the Betway West Wales National at Ffos Las tomorrow after an 11th hour setback.
Mark Bradstock’s 12-year-old, who won the race two years ago, had been an intended runner but trod on a stone and will not recover in time.
“It’s unfortunate, but as the ground is likely to be sticky, rather than sloppy, we’re not as upset as we could have been,” said Bradstock’s wife, Sara.
“He just trod on a stone and he’s the sort of horse that feels pain more than some others, he’s a bit precious. He’ll probably be fine by Sunday.
“We’ll look at running him in some veterans’ races now, I’m sure there’s a couple of races in him.
“He’s showing all his old enthusiasm at home, it’s just that as he’s got older he’s found it harder to cope with sticky ground.
“I’m sure he’s well handicapped, he’s a stone lower than when he won the Ffos Las race a couple of years ago.”
How Al Ferof gets on at Ascot next month is likely to have a significant impact upon his final destination at the Cheltenham Festival.
Paul Nicholls’ grey still holds entries in the Gold Cup, the Ryanair Chase and the Queen Mother Champion Chase, for which he is the shortest price of all three races in the ante-post betting.
But owner John Hales wants to assess Al Ferof’s performance in the Betfair Ascot Chase before thoughts turn to the Festival in March.
He said: “Al Ferof is very well and is going to Ascot on February 14.
“He’s in the three races at Cheltenham, but we’ll probably have a better idea about where we stand after Ascot.”
Elsewhere, Wilson Renwick has been handed a 24-day ban by the disciplinary panel of the BHA under the totting-up procedure following a hearing into his use of the whip.
Renwick was referred to the BHA following an inquiry into his winning ride on Nefyn Bay at Doncaster last month, being his fifth offence of misuse of the whip warranting a suspension of between two to six days in the last six months.
Eight of the days were deferred for two months. The suspension runs from February 6-21.