On The Blind Side will bid to lower the colours of the much-vaunted Samcro on his return from a setback in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on March 14.
Trainer Nicky Henderson has given the green light for the six-year-old to take on Gordon Elliott’s superstar – who is regarded as one of the bankers of the meeting – in the Grade One contest on the second day.
The Alan Spence-owned gelding, who is three from three over hurdles, having also won his bumper and a point to point, has not been sighted since winning a Grade Two affair at Sandown in December.
Henderson said: “He will run in the Ballymore. I had one moment where we just had a fortnight where we got held up, but he has done nothing wrong.
“He was getting sore shins. The second time he ran he got a bit touchy on them in the week and it looked to everybody that he wanted three miles as it took him all day to get there.
“I was convinced what happened was he was just feeling his shins and he fell down the hill.
“He has done well, but he needs a gallop.”
Henderson is looking forward to the prospect of Apple’s Shakira and We Have A Dream taking their chance on better ground in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
He said: “I am pretty sure Apple’s Shakira will run in the Triumph Hurdle after talking to Frank (Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus), but I can’t promise that. We Have A Dream will, so there are two quite nice ones for that.
“I’d love to see her and We Have A Dream on good ground. She has learnt to race and Barry (Geraghty) has been at pains to make sure she does. She has been behind horses and given something to do
“It was very much a last-minute decision to run him (We Have A Dream) there (Musselburgh).
“We went there and we didn’t get the good ground and to be fair I hadn’t prepared him at all. That was my fault it wasn’t impressive. He is a lot better than that.”
Henderson is likely to be triple-handed in his quest to land the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle for the first time since winning with subsequent Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth in 2011.
He said: “There is three for the Albert Bartlett – Santini, Chef Des Obeaux and Mr Whipped. We’ve discussed it with Richard (Kelvin-Hughes, owner) to go so that’s the plan (Santini) He is in tremendous form and is fresh and mad.
“If the ground is soft in the Albert Bartlett I think Chef Des Obeaux, who won at Haydock at the weekend, will be a better horse than Santini. He ran a very good race in soft ground, but I bet you he is a better horse on better ground.”
L’Ami Serge will revert back to smaller obstacles for a shot at the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle after finishing over fences at Doncaster last month.
Henderson said: “He will run in the Stayers’ Hurdle. I think after he won the French Champion Hurdle last year you had to do that.
“We just figured he was 7lb lower over fences so we switched him to the Great Yorkshire (Sky Bet Chase) to have a look. With a clear run he could have probably won, but he didn’t get a clear sail up the straight. He has to go left-handed.”