Evan Williams has warned leading contender Court Minstrel is far from certain to take his chance in the ultra-competitive Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday.
The six-year-old ran out an impressive winner on his debut over obstacles at Cheltenham in October and emerged with huge credit when third behind top novice Dodging Bullets at the same track a month later, having suffered trouble in running.
He was slightly disappointing when only fourth in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown last time and having struggled to cope in the mud on that occasion, Williams insists his charge will only line up this weekend if conditions are right.
The trainer said: "We are keeping an eye on it, but he definitely won't run if the ground is very soft. It will have to dry out considerably for him to run.
"He's in grand form at home and I would prefer to run him if I can because the prize-money is so good, but the one thing we learnt at Sandown is that he can't handle very soft ground, so there is no point running him on it again this weekend.
"There is a bit of drying weather around at the moment, so we might be all right, but conditions will have to be suitable for him."
Court Minstrel holds an entry in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at next month's Cheltenham Festival, but at this stage Williams is keen to go down the handicap route with a horse he believes is well treated off a mark of 131.
"He won't run in top novice company as, in my opinion, he is not a Grade One novice," said the trainer.
"My feeling is that on good ground he is a well-handicapped horse, so we might as well look at the handicaps at those better meetings for the time being.
"Whether he runs on Saturday or not, spring will arrive at some stage and I am sure there is a good prize in him when he gets on some good ground."
21 October 2014Power 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