Fakir D’oudairies’ late withdrawal at Leopardstown has left connections to work out a possible alternative route to Cheltenham for their classy novice chaser.
Drying ground resulted in Fakir D’oudairies’ absence from Saturday’s ERSG Arkle Novice Chase – which was to have been his prep run for next month’s date in the Cotswolds.
With just five weeks to go to the biggest meeting in the jumps calendar, trainer Joseph O’Brien and owner JP McManus therefore have an important call to make.
Nearer the time, they then appear to face another tough decision on whether to run in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy or the Marsh Novices’ Chase over an extra half-mile.
“There are no plans for him at the minute,” said McManus’ racing manager Frank Berry.
“We will just have to see where he goes, or he might just go straight to Cheltenham.
“We’ll make the decision on which race to go for closer to the day.”
One horse whose Festival objective is clear is Easysland, who completed his preparation for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase with a smooth victory at Pau on Sunday.
The six-year-old won over the course in December and is seen as the main danger to dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll, who will be bidding for a third successive win in the cross-country race.
Trained in France by David Cottin, Easysland was bought by McManus just last month.
“He won well, and the plan will be to go to Cheltenham with him,” said Berry.
“I’d imagine he’d go straight there. We hope he’ll get there in one piece and we’re looking forward to it.”