Triumph fancy runs out of time
Bhutan, a general 25/1 chance for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, might not even make it to the track this season.
Housesofparliament (l) pleased his trainer at Leopardstown
Trainer Joseph O'Brien feels he is running out of time with the grey son of Galileo.
He said: "Bhutan hadn't run on the Flat for a long time when he came to me.
"He was a good bit behind the others. He'll be entered in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle (at Leopardstown). I don't know if he'll run.
"He could have gone for a maiden in Naas as well, but it doesn't really make sense to win a maiden.
"Run in a Grade One and in a worst-case scenario you're a novice with a much better programme next season, or you might go in the Fred Winter.
"The programme doesn't encourage you to win a maiden hurdle.
"I doubt Bhutan will go this season. It'd surprise me if he did as it's a bit late now."
Bhutan, formerly in the care of O'Brien's father, Aidan, had one run on the Flat last April, when he defeated then stablemate Housesofparliament by three lengths in a Leopardstown maiden.
The latter is also in training with O'Brien jnr and is low as 16/1 in the Triumph ante-post betting.
Third in the St Leger at Doncaster on his final run on the Flat, he was an encouraging second on his hurdling debut at Leopardstown over Christmas.
O'Brien is convinced there is more to come from Housesofparliament, with a return to Leopardstown next month in the pipeline.
He told the Irish Independent: "I was delighted with that (Leopardstown) run.
"We hadn't him in a while. He was ready to start and the ground was slower than ideal.
"We think there's a bit to work on. We're looking forward to going to Leopardstown for the Spring Juvenile Hurdle on February 12.
"I'd be happy he doesn't need farther than two miles."