Hales harbours Festival hopes for Ibis

Owner John Hales identified the RSA Chase as Ibis Du Rheu's most likely Cheltenham Festival target.

Ibis Du Rheu

The six-year-old has done pretty well in three tries over fences and produced a fine performance at Cheltenham last Saturday, when third in a competitive handicap chase over two miles and five furlongs.

Hales said: "He ran a super race at Cheltenham.

"He should have probably finished second, but it was such a good effort giving lumps of weight away like he did.

"He'll go for the RSA now and he should hopefully go well."

Ibis Du Rheu, who also holds Festival entries in the four-miler and the JLT Novices' Chase, can be backed at around 33-1 for the RSA Chase.

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Fellow Paul Nicholls inmate Aux Ptits Soins is also engaged in the JLT and the RSA, but he may revert to hurdling and bypass Cheltenham altogether.

The 2015 Coral Cup winner claimed a nice victory at Kelso in December but plans could now be revised after he struggled in a four-runner novice chase at Doncaster last Friday.

Hales said: "He was very disappointing and it's back to the drawing board with him.

"He was fine after the race, but maybe we might have to drop him back to hurdling.

"Cheltenham might come too soon, but there's Aintree and Ayr in the spring."

Brio Conti brought a lot more to the table on the same Doncaster card when he trounced a good-looking field in a maiden hurdle over just shy of two and a half miles.

Hales, who part-owns the horse under the Gi Gi Syndicate, said: "He's very good and won brilliantly at Doncaster.

"I think he's going to the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham."

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