Samcro will be given a Unibet Champion Hurdle entry next week but remains “very, very, very doubtful” to turn up at the Festival.
Tests were carried out after he failed to fire for the third time this season at Leopardstown over Christmas, but nothing untoward has shown up.
While he is unlikely to run again this season, Gordon Elliott’s seven-year-old is set to be given the Festival option just in case.
“He’ll be kept in the Champion Hurdle in case things go real well. But we’re looking at the longer picture,” said owner Gigginstown House Stud’s racing manager Eddie O’Leary in the Irish Times.
“He is very, very, very doubtful for Cheltenham. He won’t be rushed. He’ll come back in his own sweet time – and if he doesn’t this season, he’ll be let off. He was always going to go chasing next season regardless.”
When asked if Samcro’s likely absence increased the chance of the mare Apple’s Jade running in the Champion Hurdle, O’Leary said: “I still say we haven’t a single gelding that qualifies for the Mares Hurdle – not one!”
“That’s my answer to that. She qualifies, and that’s still where I would go. It will be there or the Stayers’. But her ideal trip is two and a half miles.”