Star De Mohaison takes the next step on the road to a possible tilt at the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup when he has his first race over fences for two years on Friday.
The seven-year-old, trained by Paul Nicholls, has been restricted to two runs over hurdles due to a tendon problem since beating The Listener in the Future Stars Chase at Sandown in December 2006.
Connections still have high hopes for Star De Mohaison, who, after missing all of 2007, had outings over the smaller obstacles on New Year’s Day and last month.
He has no easy task on his return, however, and has been burdened with top weight of 11st 12lb for Cheltenham’s Boylepoker.com Chase – in which Grand National winner Comply Or Die is also engaged.
“For any horse that’s been off for that length of time, they need two or three races to get their eye back in again,” said Barry Simpson, racing manager to owner Sir Robert Ogden.
“They are using muscles they haven’t used for a long time, so we are just taking it steady with him, but I think he’ll run well.
“The objective is getting him back on the course and as he is better going left-handed, we’re just looking for opportunities for him.
“The plan is more long-term with him in the early part of the year.
“He’ll come on from this, hopefully, and go on for one of the Gold Cup trial races – the Cotswold or the AON Chase.
“He’s got top weight on Friday, which has to be expected – there’s not much we can do about that.”