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Cheltenham dream in doubt for Dreal Deal as fungus issue returns to yard

Dreal Deal: has shown remarkable improvement this season
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Ronan McNally's Cheltenham dream with Dreal Deal could be in doubt after the yard encountered a fungus issue from suspected unsatisfactory hay for the second time in as many years.

The six-year-old, who would bid for a seventh successive win in a row if lining up next month, is priced between 14-1 and 20-1 for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle after winning the Moscow Flyer.

Dreal Deal left behind an inauspicious start to his hurdles career behind when winning a Navan handicap in November off a mark of 84.

Ronan McNally: "We won't hit the panic button if he doesn't look himself in time for Cheltenham"

After that race, McNally stated in the post-race inquiry into the horse's improved form that his string had been under a cloud due to aspergillus, a common fungus that affects the respiratory system.

"We'll do a couple of crucial bits of work, which should give us an idea by next weekend if we're going to make Cheltenham," he said.

"We had the problem last winter but then got good hay at the time the horses were running very well. The next batch after just wasn't as good. Those who have tested the hay tell me it's a common problem, a lot of hay at the moment isn't coming back right."

He added of the impact of an aspergillus issue on horses: "They can be dull in their coats and their breathing might not be as clear. They tend to sweat more and might not seem themselves."

Dreal Deal: has won his last six starts

McNally believes there are a variety of alternatives for his rising star if next month's Grade 1 comes too soon and is open to the idea of running him on the Flat at some stage in 2021.

"I won't put pressure on us," he added. "There's still Aintree and Punchestown, as well as options on the Flat. We won't hit the panic button if he doesn't seem himself in time for the festival."

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We'll do a couple of crucial bits of work, which should give us an idea by next weekend if we're going to make Cheltenham
E.W. Terms