Moon Racer owner could aim for the stars with top-class novice
Moon Racer's joint-owner Bryan Drew believes his high-class novice would not be out of place in the Stan James Champion Hurdle line-up as he made it obvious how tempted he is to let his exciting prospect tackle one of the sport's premier prizes.
Although the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, for which Moon Racer is 5-1 second favourite with the sponsor, remains the likeliest target for the David Pipe-trained eight-year-old, he also holds an entry in the Champion and can be backed at 33-1.
Drew and fellow owner Caroline Tisdall must decide between the two contests for the 2015 Champion Bumper hero, who has had only six runs in his career, the most recent coming when he won over the same course and distance as his two possible Cheltenham Festival opening-day assignments.
Drew said: "The question is, do we take our one and only chance in the Supreme or do we go for what looks a weaker than usual Champion Hurdle?
"There are still a hell of a lot of good horses in the Champion, and I think it would need to cut up a bit more for us to run, but I do think our fella would deserve to take his chance.
"He has a terrific turn of foot and we hold him in very high regard. Some people might think we'd be nuts to entertain the Champion, and they might think we'd have no chance, but I don't agree."
Drew added: "We're not fixed on either race and don't need to make a decision for some time. I just hope in a few weeks time we're still in a position to make a decision.
"Poor Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci have been having a torrid time and there will be plenty more people getting bad news between now and the start of the festival.
"The good news is the horse is in good nick and doing faster work, but we're not sure whether to give him a run before Cheltenham or just a racecourse gallop."
Galling for Ricci
Mullins and Ricci have combined to win the last two Champion Hurdles with Faugheen and Annie Power, but both have been ruled out of making a Cheltenham return, as has stablemate Min.
"I know so much went right for us last year and we had a stunning Cheltenham. But we have also lost over a dozen horses in the past 12 months so we've had a really tough run of it injury-wise too. When that happens you've got to ask yourself some hard questions. Does this happen to everybody or is it just our run of bad luck?"
Ricci remains optimistic Faugheen and Min will race this season, added that only Annie Power had a "poor prognosis" in terms of running again this term.