Ballymore fancy Walking On Air to swerve Cheltenham for Aintree

Walking On Air: likely to miss this month's festival
Walking On Air: likely to miss this month's festivalCredit: Edward Whitaker

Walking On Air, who is as short as 7-1 for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, is likely to miss the Cheltenham Festival according to trainer Nicky Henderson.

Doreen Tabor's five-year-old emerged as a leading British contender for the Grade 1 on March 16 when bolting clear on his hurdles debut at Newbury in January.

He has not been seen since that 13-length win, with connections opting against a prep race in the Sidney Banks at the end of February. Instead, an ambitious tilt at the festival was the plan for just the third start of his career.

He was described as "classy" on Henderson's pre-Cheltenham press day and his ability as being "pretty close" to the stable's top novices Constitution Hill and Jonbon. That pair are entered in the Ballymore but the Supreme remains their priority, while Walking On Air's could now go be the Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle on April 9.

"We'll probably swerve Cheltenham," the trainer revealed on Saturday. "I'd have thought that's what we'll do as it's been a bit of a rush. I'll talk to Mr and Mrs Tabor and we'll decide any minute now, but in all probability he'll miss that and head for Aintree and the two-and-a-half-mile novice hurdle there."

Henderson landed the Grade 1 Mersey Novices' Hurdle with Spirit Son (2011) and Simonsig (2012). The Willie Mullins-trained Sir Gerhard remains at the head of the Ballymore betting at 11-8.

Ballymore Novices' Hurdle

Bet365 11-8 Sir Gerhard, 9-4 Dysart Dynamo, 5-2 Constitution Hill, 11-4 Jonbon, 4-1 Ginto, Journey With Me, 6-1 Stage Star, Minella Cocooner, 10-1 Walking On Air, Kilcruit, State Man, 12-1 Three Stripe Life, 16-1 bar

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James StevensWest Country correspondent

Published on 5 March 2022inNews

Last updated 16:23, 5 March 2022