Henry de Bromhead has confirmed the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase as the preferred Cheltenham Festival target for Monalee.
The seven-year-old bounced back from a heavy fall at Leopardstown over Christmas when landing the Flogas Novice Chase at the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival a month ago.
That first Grade One success came over two miles and five furlongs and he holds an entry in the two-and-a-half-mile JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, but De Bromhead is keen to see his charge return to an extended three miles in the RSA unless testing conditions prevail.
Speaking on Racing UK’s Luck on Sunday programme, the trainer said: “We’d be leaning towards the RSA on what you would call normal Festival ground. That would be our preference, but if it came up soft or heavy, maybe we’d start looking at the JLT a little bit more.
“We’ll see what way the ground is nearer the time, but at the moment our preference would be the RSA.”
The Knockeen-based trainer reports the cold snap to have bitten hard in County Waterford, but his team have been working hard to keep the show on the road.
He said: “It’s been pretty rough. Friday was pretty bad for us, but we’re getting through it.
“All the (Cheltenham) horses seem well, we’re happy with them and we’re just trying to get this last week out of the way.
“To be honest I’ve been so focused on clearing snow, if I ever see snow again it will be too soon!”
Monalee will be part of a strong De Bromhead team heading for the Cotswolds.
Special Tiara will defend his crown in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, while Petit Mouchoir is set for an intriguing rematch with the Willie Mullins-trained Footpad in the Arkle Trophy.
Balko Des Flos is also well fancied to go well in the Ryanair Chase.
De Bromhead said: “Special Tiara seems in great form and he did it last year.
“He always goes there and runs his race, in fairness to him. He’s one of the most consistent horses in training.
“I was happy with Petit Mouchoir in Leopardstown (second to Footpad in Irish Arkle). It was a matter of trying to get him to the race, which we did, and he ran well. I hope he’ll come on for the run.”
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