Last year's Albert Bartlett favourite could skip festival
Shantou Village, the horse sent off favourite for Unowhatimeanharry's Albert Bartlett, will not be seen again until the ground quickens up, with trainer Neil Mulholland revealing that while the horse is fit and well his participation in the Cheltenham Festival is in doubt.
Shantou Village has not been seen since falling at the last in the Grade 2 Wincanton Rising Stars Novices' Chase in early November but Mulholland revealed the absence was due to the winter ground rather than an injury.
"He's very well but the plan was always to give him the winter off as we ran him on trials day last year when he finished behind Yanworth and it completely bottomed him, so we decided we wouldn't be making that mistake again.
"He's back in and, while he's not ready yet, he would be in three weeks. That said, we've not made any plans for him because he needs good ground so there's no point picking races for him as he wouldn't even be entered if the ground wasn't right.
"He's only young and still improving so we'll mind him and it's not all about Cheltenham. If the ground does come right in time then perfect, we could end up going straight there and at the moment I'm favouring the three-mile race [RSA Chase], but if it doesn't there's always Aintree and Punchestown. We'll be waiting for his ground."
David Pipe is another trainer uncertain of whether his festival hope Moon Racer, displaced on Sunday as Supreme favourite by maiden winner Melon, will run again before Cheltenham after a mid-season break.
He said: "It's possible Moon Racer could have a run, he's back in after a mid-season break and we'll decide closer to the time. We don't have anything set in mind just yet."