Trainer Mouse Morris will wait until the middle of the week before deciding whether to let First Lieutenant take his chance in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday.
Last season's RSA Chase runner-up was not disgraced on his return to action at Gowran and then pushed Kauto Stone all of the way in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal. Morris had suggested his seven-year-old was unlikely to take his chance in the Hennessy, but the County Tipperary trainer is now warming to the idea. With Tidal Bay heading the weights of the 22 confirmations, First Lieutenant is set to carry 11st 5lb if he does run.
Morris said: "We'll keep our options open until Wednesday. The top weight staying in might encourage us to go and the choice is whether to run on soft ground in England or bottomless ground in Ireland. We'll wait a couple of days and see what the lovely weather is going to do! By Wednesday night we'll know whether we're travelling or not."
His RSA Chase conqueror Bobs Worth heads ante-post lists for Saturday's feature at Newbury, with trainer Nicky Henderson set to assess conditions at Newbury on Tuesday.
The Seven Barrows handler said: "We're going to have a look at Newbury tomorrow, I'm sure they're doing everything they can. I'd like to get a run into him this weekend. Things have been geared towards that, but plans are changing left, right and centre at the moment."
Henderson also has Ascot winner Roberto Goldback engaged, while First Lieutenant is one of three possible runners for Ireland, with the Dessie Hughes-trained Magnanimity and Irish National hero Lion Na Bearnai still in contention.
Hughes said: "Hopefully he'll run, unless the ground is too deep. I hear they are expecting a dry week after today, so by Saturday it might have dried out a bit."
Philip Hobbs has Planet Of Sound and Duke Of Lucca in the mix and he said: "Neither of them would want it too soft, so we'll have to make a decision later in the week. It's the same for everyone at the moment."
As well as Tidal Bay, Paul Nicholls has also confirmed Harry The Viking, but stable companion Michel Le Bon is a notable defection. Other major players include The Package, Hold On Julio and Saint Are. Last year's Hennessy hero Carruthers is also a possible runner - as is the 2010 winner Diamond Harry.
One horse for whom conditions should not pose too many problems is Frisco Depot, who was in the process of running a big race at Ascot on his debut for Charlie Longsdon when falling three fences from home. Longsdon said: "I think we will put a stronger bit in his mouth because he was a bit keen last time. I don't think the ground will be a problem as all his runs in Ireland were on heavy ground."
21 October 2014Panther given Breeders' go-ahead
Plain sailing for perfect Storm
Big Easy sets sail for Open fixture
Hall monitored for Giant Bolster
Stomachion in November frame
Hughes revels in 'sweet' success
Storm breezes to Exeter victory
BHA moves to address small fields
Moore concedes title to Hughes
Connell turns to Heskin
Integral to race on next year
Meade maps out gameplan for stars
Pele poised to tackle Hennessy
O'Neill sure of Taquin redemption
Heron seeking Great prize
Court to go on Trial
Saviour blow for Skelton
Dan makes chase debut
Moore waits on Grugy decision
O'Neill outlines That choices
Conn possible for Auction bid
Power team weigh up options
Bangor cancel schooling card
No rushing back for Long Run
Dynaste leads Old Roan contenders
Grands Crus retired
Exciting Berlais heads to Chepstow
Force handed Hong Kong mission
Park favourite for Trophy hunt
Al Kazeem team eye Hong Kong trip
Commemorative bound for Breeders'
Slade eyeing victorious swansong
20 October 2014Chelmsford City handed 58 fixtures
Alderwood to take two-mile test
Dynaste leads Old Roan contenders
Hennessy aim for Clouds
Fiesolana on Breeders' trail
High-class possibilities for Trophy
Chelmsford City handed 57 fixtures
French option for Maarek
Billy back for chasing bow
Judge to bid for Breeders' glory
Pipe mulls Moon target
High hopes for Holywell
Judge in Breeders' frame
Hill stars for Stoute and Moore
Gabriel lifts Garnet for Deegan
New One back with a win
Light career hangs in balance
Stars shines on hurdling debut
King big guns ready to start
Tullius camp consider options
Doyle unlikely to appeal Ascot ban
Mullins prepares formidable team
19 October 2014New One breezes to victory
Lavelle has Becher plan for Lodge
Riches heading on road north
Down Royal plan for Tiger
New makes Kempton return
Panther hunting Canadian prize
Sun takes a shine to Cork
Hobbs upholds Showcase record
Another gold strike for Bronze
Gallant Noble a true Champion
Head turns on Charm in QEII
Madame is Ascot leading lady
Forgotten rules for Weld
Byron is poetry in motion
18 October 2014Forgotten rules for Weld
War misses Breeders' date
Rakti reaps Caulfield reward
Chatez bids for Balmoral crown
Lavelle duo top Cheltenham card
Integral takes on the boys
Noble on Champion mission
Belardo a Dewhurst sparkler
Together stands firm for Ballydoyle
Ivawood felled by plucky Thought
Crowley doubles up on Berkshire
Tendon injury sidelines Tent