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Henry Daly will leave Hillcrest decision to last minute

Connections of Hillcrest will leave it late before deciding on whether to run at the Cheltenham Festival.

The seven-year-old is entered in both the two-mile-five-furlong Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and the Albert Bartlett over three miles, with trainer Henry Daly admitting the shorter race is all but ruled out.

However, the handler is uncertain as to whether Hillcrest, who sports the colours of the late Trevor Hemmings, will turn up at Prestbury Park at all, having run – and won- at Haydock on February 19.

Daly said: “I’m very undecided and it very much depends on how he is in the next couple of weeks.

“Me and Mick (Meagher, racing manager) were talking about it this morning and I’d be amazed if he ran in the Ballymore – I can’t see that happening.

“He ran at Haydock in heavy ground the other day, which so wasn’t the plan, but it worked out pretty well in the end. He ran there because of the whoopsie here on Festival Trials Day.

“I just think there’s no point in getting hamstrung and saying we’re going to come here, as I’m very conscious of people that have ante-post vouchers and that sort of thing.

“We’ve given him a bit of time off since and a bit of a quiet time. He will continue to fiddle around this week and we’ll do a bit of work, but he’s very straightforward and has come out of the Haydock race absolutely fine.

“It was only 10 days ago that he ran in the Prestige and that’s really the issue. He was very impressive and did some remarkable times, but I’m very conscious of the fact that it really isn’t about hurdling with this horse – he’s about next season and novice chasing.

“I’m thinking about that bit rather than this bit. Obviously, to win a race at the Cheltenham Festival with him would be fantastic, but there’s no guarantee in that and he could always go to Aintree and run there in the Sefton.

“I’m just trying to keep all our options open.”

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