OWNER Graham Wylie insists any future plans for exciting novice chaser Back In Focus will be completely dictated by ground conditions.
The Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old stretched his unbeaten record over fences to three with a dour staying performance in the Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown over the Festive period, getting up to beat stable companion Aupcharlie close home.
Wylie hopes the future is bright for the bold-jumping chestnut but having missed over a year of action with a leg injury, he will not be risked on a fast surface.
‘‘He won a novice hurdle on his first run for us in very soft ground at Haydock, when he was trained by Howard (Johnson), and then we purposely missed Cheltenham because we didn’t want him coming down that hill on fast ground,’’ said Wylie.
‘‘We decided to wait until Aintree, but he got the leg injury and was out for over a year afterwards.
‘‘Willie has done a great job bringing him back and we want to look after him now, giving him time between his races.
‘‘He’ll be entered for Cheltenham and we’ll decide if the ground is suitable closer to the time. Ruby (Walsh, jockey) said the ground at Leopardstown was as fast as he’d like.
‘‘He is a very good jumper and he stays well, but we don’t want to push him too hard as we want more than just one season out of him.
‘‘He’s having a bit of a break now as he had quite a tough race last time. We want him to have a long career rather than a short one.’’
- Cue Card is set to line up in either the Queen Mother Champion Chase or the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after trainer Colin Tizzard ruled out a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The seven-year-old was a hugely impressive winner of the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on his seasonal reappearance in early November, but three miles in testing conditions proved beyond him as he finished a well-beaten fifth in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.