Henry de Bromhead is hoping to get Balko Des Flos’ season back on track in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase on Sunday week.
The seven-year-old was an impressive winner of the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but has failed to fire in two starts since.
He was a disappointing fourth at Aintree on his final outing of last season and occupied the same finishing position on his return to action in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal earlier this month.
However, De Bromhead believes he has a viable excuse for that most recent below-par effort.
He said: “Balko Des Flos will go for the John Durkan. He seems really well.
“A couple of things showed up after Down Royal, so I hope we have him right again.
“His next run will tell us more.”
De Bromhead is also keeping his fingers crossed Paloma Blue can bounce back to form on his next start.
Fourth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, the six-year-old was expected to make up into a high-class novice chaser this season, but was a disappointing odds-on favourite on his fencing debut at Navan last weekend.
“Paloma Blue seems fine after Navan. He really needed it, and his jumping was a little bit deliberate,” the trainer added.
“He was similar last year for his first run over hurdles, so I hope he’ll keep progressing and we’ll get him back on track.”