Even the choice of the gelding's prep race is proving difficult, though Tinkler must decide this morning whether to run Satin Lover at Sandown tomorrow, or wait until the weekend and a likely meeting with the Champion Hurdle favourite, Coulton, in Nottingham's City Trial Hurdle. A strong showing in the latter race might book Satin Lover's place in the Champion itself, though the County Hurdle and Supreme Novice Hurdle are his other Festival alternatives.
No such agonising for Martin Pipe, whose Chatam has just one Cheltenham objective, the Gold Cup. In his first race since November, Chatam was narrowly beaten by Jodami in Ireland on Sunday, and Pipe yesterday confirmed that he will not run again until the Festival. 'He has returned home in fine shape,' the trainer said. 'It was a fine run considering he had been off the course for so long and he goes for the Gold Cup with every chance.'
The Cheltenham ante-post markets were quiet yesterday, but there was Grand National support for Laura's Beau, owned by prominent Irish punter J P McManus. The gelding is now a 20-1 chance from 25-1 with Ladbrokes to improve two places on his third to Party Politics at Aintree last year.