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Punchestowns 'to miss Festival'

Nicky Henderson has effectively ruled Punchestowns out of the Cheltenham Festival and is considering giving the chestnut a run at the racecourse which has lent him his name.

Although entered in both the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, Henderson is looking away from those events.

Punchestowns got his first win of the season when he unconvincingly beat Pasco at Kempton last month.

"I think we can say Punchestowns won't be here," said Henderson.

"I don't think he'll win a Gold Cup or a World Hurdle so we are better to stay out of it. There's Aintree and we've always said he should run at Punchestown one year. Maybe it could be this year ... over fences."

Henderson said the publication of the weights for the Festival handicaps had thrown him into confusion.

His Molotof is the top weight for the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle, while A Media Luz, who was to be diverted to the Triumph Hurdle instead, has 11st 4lb.

"Our plans have fallen out of synch, especially with the four-year-olds," he said. "What we thought was sorted a fortnight ago has now fallen out of order -- some are now in and some are now out."

Henderson said it was "more likely than unlikely" that Riverside Theatre would contest the Ryanair Chase after a chat with connections, while he has not made up his mind about a Cheltenham target for French Opera.