LiveScore Racing News: Daly keeping options open for 'Rodney'
Trainer Henry Daly is not favouring one option over another as connections contemplate where to send Hillcrest, nicknamed Rodney, next following his impressive New Year's Day victory.
Hillcrest, who stands at 18 hands (around 6ft to the shoulder), kicked off 2022 in style with a two-length victory in the Listed Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, finishing ahead of Nicky Henderson's I Am Maximus.
Dan Skelton's Get A Tonic was back in third while Pull Again Green and Doctor Ken came in fourth and fifth, respectively, ahead of another Henderson runner in the shape of Mot A Mot.
The seven-year-old Hillcrest, who runs in the colours of the late British billionaire Trevor Hemmings, is now being touted for a potential run at the Cheltenham Festival in March, while a trip to Doncaster has also been mooted.
However, ahead of a possible visit to Prestbury Park for the prestigious meeting, connections are deliberating the next course of action for the brown gelding and where to send him next.
Going back to Cheltenham for the Classic Novices' Hurdle on January 29 is being discussed, while the River Don Novices' Hurdle at Doncaster is also on the table, but Daly is not at a point where he can confirm the next outing.
He said: "Hillcrest is absolutely fine after the race — no problem at all. What he is going to do next is a very leading question.
"There is an ongoing debate as to what the next plan is. There is the race at Cheltenham on the 29th, similar to the race he ran in the other day, a two-and-a-half-mile Listed race.
There is also the same race on the same day — the River Don, a three-mile novice hurdle.
"Quite honestly, it is a bit of a toss-up and there is also the possibility of not running in either of those races."
While there is still a couple of months until the Cheltenham Festival, Daly has been urged to send Hillcrest, who is unbeaten in three novice hurdles this season, to get his charge primed for that meeting.
Daly added: "I keep being told to think 'Cheltenham' for him. It is an interesting conundrum, being told to think things. It is pretty obvious the Festival has to be on the radar, doesn't it? But it is not the be-all and end-all.
"When you start leaning, you tend to fall. Therefore it is better to be vertical and keep it that way."
Of the Cheltenham Festival races, Hillcrest could be aimed at the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle or the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, but Daly is not putting all of his eggs into one basket at this moment in time.