Punchestown the plan for Aintree absentee Footpad

Connections of Footpad are keeping their fingers crossed the star novice chaser returns to full health in time to run at the Punchestown Festival.

The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old extended his unbeaten record over fences to four with a runaway success in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham last month and had been pencilled in to run in the Maghull Novices’ Chase on Grand National day at Aintree.

However, Footpad was ruled out of a trip to Merseyside after returning a dirty scope and now faces a race against time to be fit for the Ryanair Novice Chase at Punchestown on April 26.

Anthony Bromley, racing manager for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, said: “He will be scoped again at the end of this week and if that is clear we will work him again.

“I’d say he will probably go to Punchestown if everything scopes clean. It is still a good target and it is worth more money at Punchestown (than Aintree)

“If he doesn’t go there it would be it for the season as there is nothing after that.”

The leading owners enjoyed an excellent afternoon at Aintree on Thursday, claiming a Grade One double with Nicky Henderson’s pair of We Have A Dream and L’Ami Serge.

We Have A Dream secured his fifth straight win since arriving in Britain with a dominant display in the Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle and hopes are high he could develop into a Champion Hurdle contender next season.

Bromley said: “He has always looked a nice horse through the season.

“It wasn’t planned to miss the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, but he had a temperature the Monday of Festival week. He has come back nicely and that performance at Aintree was very pleasing.

“He jumps very fast and we will have to see what we do with him next year.

“He would jump fences, but what we have found with other horses like him is we don’t need to rush them. Footpad had a season in good hurdle races before going chasing.

“We may have another season hurdling with We Have A Dream and see where we get to before we go novice chasing.

“He will be campaigned as a hurdler, I suspect, but we don’t have to make that decision yet.

“We didn’t enter him at Punchestown as it would be too close and we don’t need to take a juvenile to Auteuil.

“I think we will treat him as a nice horse and he can try some Champion Hurdle trials and see where we are.”