Owner Philip Reynolds rates it a “50-50” chance his Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy will take up his entry in the BetVictor Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse.
Trainer Pat Kelly threw a curve ball last weekend when not declaring the dual Cheltenham Festival winner for the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park – meaning Saturday’s Grade Three contest is his last opportunity to run over fences before returning to Prestbury Park next month.
Speaking in front of the assembled media at a Cheltenham Festival press event at The K Club on Tuesday, Reynolds insisted his pride and joy is in sparkling form – and is happy to leave any decision on whether Presenting Percy will run this weekend to his trainer.
Reynolds said: “I was down to see him myself over the weekend, and the horse is absolutely terrific. He’s kicking the boards and in great shape.
“We could have run him last weekend and may well run him this weekend. Every bit of rain we’re getting will help.
“Certainly after winning the Galmoy Hurdle, the intention was to go back to Gowran – which was the same route we took to the RSA Chase last year.
“Pat had the horse in as good a shape as he needed to be, and wanted to be. I don’t want to say anything negative about the ground in Gowran, but it was ground that was raced on two and a half weeks earlier.
“They don’t have an opportunity in Gowran to move the fences, and it was probably as bad a ground as we’ve had in Ireland all year. It would have been filled with sand and rolled over – and the horse is as well as we want him to be.
“We’ve waited all year to run him. I don’t know how many more opportunities Pat is going to have a horse going to the Gold Cup – I certainly doubt I’ll have many more opportunities – and we just decided to be ultra-careful.”
Assessing the chances of Presenting Percy running at Fairyhouse, Reynolds added: “Pat has been speaking with a friend of his, Eddie Cawley, who lives just around the corner from the track, and I’ve been speaking to Peter (Roe, general manager at Fairyhouse), who said that if the rain didn’t come they might start to water on Thursday. A bit of rain has come now, so maybe the tankers won’t have to come out.
“I see there’s 11 entries. It would be nice to get him out again in a small field – just to try and minimise the risk as much as possible.
“I’d say it’s 50-50 at this stage as to whether he’ll run or not. There’s a chance he will.”
Should Presenting Percy not meet his weekend engagement, he is set to take the unorthodox route of bidding for Gold Cup glory having not run over fences all season.
However, Reynolds is relatively unconcerned.
He said: “I’ve spoken to Pat at length about it – particularly ahead of last weekend. The conversation I had with him last weekend was not just about going to Gowran – it was about whether we go straight to Cheltenham off the back of one run (over hurdles).
“When Pat told me he was happy if that was the route we ended up taking, I was perfectly happy about that.
“I’ve spoken to Davy (Russell) about it and he said straight after he won the Galmoy Hurdle that if he went straight to Cheltenham he wouldn’t be bothered either.
“I think the Gold Cup is probably one of the very few races in Cheltenham that you could get away with doing that.”
If Presenting Percy does line up this weekend, he is unlikely to have things all his own way – with some quality from the yards of Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins potentially in opposition.
Elliott can choose between Alpha Des Obeaux, Don Poli, Mala Beach, Monbeg Notorious or Outlander.
Mullins is thinking of running Rathvinden – winner of the four-miler at last year’s Cheltenham Festival – while Pleasant Company, second in the Grand National in April, is another possible.
Henry de Bromhead’s Valseur Lido, Jessica Harrington’s Magic Of Light and Stephen Mahon’s Champagne Harmony complete the list.