With frost nipping prospects for tomorrow's turf racing in Britain, the focal point for those hoping for Cheltenham clues looks likely to be Leopardstown's meeting on Sunday, featuring the Gold Cup aspirants Master Oats and Jodami.
Monsieur Le Cure may also make the line-up, but his owner, Hector Brown, is wary of making the trip to Ireland after his horse had an expensive excursion there last year for a Punchestown meeting which was subsequently abandoned. The Agfa Diamond Chase at Sandown is the immediate option.
"Monsieur Le Cure is very well and John Edwards is keen for him to have a run before Cheltenham," Brown said. "After this weekend we have the Jim Ford Chase at Wincanton and then the Post Chase and Greenalls at Haydock at the end of February as options.
"I think he demonstrated last time [behind One Man] that he is out of the top drawer. We don't like to miss a race, but Gold Cup day at Cheltenham is what is uppermost in our mind."
Both Monsieur Le Cure and Master Oats would be suited by boggy ground in Ireland, but the prediction of yielding going at Leopardstown is not as important to connections as the forecast of what the weather may do to the weekend's fixtures.
Leopardstown looks safe with milder weather on the way for Sunday, but Sandown and Chepstow's Saturday cards are threatened after the return of frosty conditions. Sandown's clerk of the course, Andrew Cooper, said: "We will cover up but you can't cover the whole course. I think it is inevitable that we will have an inspection on Saturday morning."
Prospects at Wetherby are brighter but there will be an inspection there this morning to confirm local optimism.
If Sandown goes ahead, Adrian Maguire will return to the saddle, providing he can convince the racecourse doctor that his knee injury has healed. "I hope to ride Percy Smollett, Pharanear, Billygoat Gruff and Martin's Lamp - four nice horses, aren't they?" Maguire said.
Derrymoyle emerged victorious over fellow Champion Hurdle outsiders Balawhar and Tiananmen Square at Punchestown yesterday, but is as likely to contest the Stayers' Hurdle at the Festival as the main event.Reuse content