Blow By Blow will skip hurdling until next season
Blow By Blow, winner of the Punchestown Grade One Bumper last year, will not hurdle this season, instead sticking to combat on the level.
On his final start for Willie Mullins, Gigginstown's steed beat Moon Racer, which is now favourite for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle. However, minor injuries have compelled connections to skip jumping and preserve the horse's novice status for next term.
This may influence plans for the very promising Barra, a bloodless winner last Sunday at Fairyhouse. She could switch from the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle to the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle - a race for which Blow By Blow was 16/1 - at Cheltenham.
Gigginstown's racing manager Eddie O'Leary said: "Blow By Blow will come back for a bumper this season and will not go hurdling. He's not long back with Gordon Elliott and the little problem he had is resolved. He had a tiny chip in his knee."
One with a similar programme ahead is Samcro. Having sold for £335,000 last year, hype will follow him, but there is no question of his going to Cheltenham this term.
Though Samcro was not overly impressive in his Navan bumper win last time at long odds-on, O'Leary said: "That race was never going to show him in his best light and Katie Walsh rode the little filly that finished second to do us for pace, so for him to win he is not slow. We were very happy.
"The plan has been to tip along and look to Fairyhouse and Punchestown. He cost what he cost - I'd have preferred to pay less for him - but he's a beautiful horse. All I know is I wanted to buy him. It's all about next year."
Regarding Barra, he added: "You'd like to go to the mares' novice race but it may be on the sharp side so the Neptune comes into consideration. That trip is definitely preferable.
"The next day will tell us where we are. I like her. She has not had her trip yet but if it came up soft at Cheltenham we'd lean towards the mares' race."
With Leopardstown's Coral-sponsored lucrative hurdle and chase upcoming on Sunday, and the Goffs Thyestes to follow tomorrow week, Gigginstown - which has a staggering lead at the top of the Irish jumps owners' table of nearly €1m - will have no shortage of runners in the next week and a half.
Ante-post favourite Heartbreak City heads a list of 29 horses standing their ground in the €100,000 feature handicap hurdle on Sunday at the confirmation stage. Tony Martin's seven-year-old was just touched off in the Melbourne Cup at Flemington when last seen.
O'Leary added: "Obviously, things can change, but we're probably certain to run Ice Cold Soul in the big hurdle race Sunday. I think he'll be joined by one of Tycoon Prince and Tombstone.
"Ice Cold Soul had a nice prep. Tycoon Prince is huge but will stay hurdling this season. Tombstone is like Lazarus; he has had the exact same injury in three legs.
"Small stuff, nothing - but frustrating. I'd like to run him. He is a high-class horse. He was supposed to be going chasing this season and would have been a big name for us.
"Roi Des Francs would probably prefer farther but we're light enough for the Leopardstown Chase and I expect he'll run, for all the weight he has.
"It's simple with Prince Of Scars. He won't be running in any more beginners' chases. He's not tricky, he simply hasn't had his ground over fences. He wants it heavy and three miles. He can remain as a novice and go for the good handicaps, starting with the Thyestes."
Un De Sceaux, Willie Mullins' only runner in Britain this season, is currently trading as the odds-on favourite for Saturday's Berkshire Community Foundation Clarence House Chase at Ascot. He will again take on Ar Mad.