Ar Mad to skip Cheltenham
Gary Moore has ruled Ar Mad out of the Cheltenham Festival, instead turning his attentions to Aintree or Punchestown.
Ar Mad: Won't run at Cheltenham
The talented front-runner, winner of last season's Grade One Henry VIII Novices' Chase at the expense of Gold Cup hope Bristol De Mai, was expected to run in the Ascot Chase next week before suffering what Moore described as 'a little setback'.
With just five weeks to go until Cheltenham, Moore has now confirmed that a first run at the track is off the table.
"Even though he is coming along nicely, the Cheltenham Festival is going to come too soon and it looks almost certain that we will head straight to Aintree or Punchestown instead," wrote Moore in his Betway blog.
"There is simply no point rushing him back too quickly and you just can't go to Cheltenham undercooked.
"It's a shame, but by giving ourselves that little bit more time he will be spot on for one of those targets."
Moore had better news about the long-absent Traffic Fluide, who features among seven entries for Saturday's Game Spirit at Newbury.
"He hasn't run since last year's Clarence House, but seems in really good order and I'm looking forward to seeing him back on a racecourse," said Moore.
"I was really pleased with the way he schooled last week and that would have put him spot on for this.
"People keep asking me about his possible Cheltenham target and the truth is that we will learn a lot more on Saturday.
"If he comes through the race okay, we obviously have the option of running in the Betway Champion Chase.
"There is, of course, the possibility that he may need further than two miles, in which case we could step him up in trip and go for the Ryanair."
One horse whose sole Cheltenham option is clear is Sire De Grugy, who could follow a familiar path to the Champion Chase as he bids to add to his 2014 success in the race, albeit with Douvan standing in his way this time.
However, Moore did underline his need for cut and appears unlikely to risk his stable star on spring ground.
"The plan for Sire De Grugy is to head back to Chepstow at the end of the month for the handicap he used as a Betway Champion Chase prep two years ago," he added.
"He has had plenty of time off since unseating at Kempton at Christmas time and Chepstow seems to suit him well, as he has won his last two starts at the track.
"Once we get Chepstow out the way, we can start to think about Cheltenham and whether he heads back to the Betway Champion Chase for the fourth consecutive year.
"At this stage, I'd say that he will only run if the word 'soft' appears in the going description."
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