Alan King will continue taking small steps with Grade One winner Messire Des Obeaux after ruling him out of the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Barbury Castle trainer will fly low for the remainder of the campaign with the 2016 Challow Hurdle winner – and then send him over fences next season.
Messire Des Obeaux made a satisfactory comeback after more than two years on the sidelines, finishing fourth in a handicap hurdle at Huntingdon on Thursday.
King said: “I was really pleased with him, and he was fine the morning after. We are not going to do much with him this season.
“He won’t run in the Stayers’ Hurdle, and we will give him one more quiet run somewhere.
“That gave me as much satisfaction as having a winner, and I’ve never seen Daryl (Jacob, jockey) as excited as he was at Huntingdon.
“He was going to be retired, but the reason we wanted him back was that he was so special.”
Having put so much work into getting Messire Des Obeaux back on track, King hopes all his injury problems are behind him.
He added: “We’ve done 90 per cent of the work with him, and we have just got to make sure we don’t muck him up between now and the end of the season.
“Those old legs, if you do it right, will get better with time and more work.
“When he first came back I didn’t think he would see a racecourse again, but we just worked and worked at it.”
With Messire Des Obeaux already a top-level winner over hurdles, King is optimistic the Simon Munir and Isaac Souede-owned gelding can reach similar heights over fences.
He said: “He is a chaser all over – the way he jumped most of the hurdles at Huntingdon suggested that as well.
“If we keep the legs right – and he is improving all the time – he can have a full season over fences next year.
“I’ve just got to mind him over the next three or four months, and we might have a proper horse over fences.”