Cheltenham still beckons for Chatham Street Lad

Michael Winters is still targeting the Cheltenham Festival with Chatham Street Lad, despite his defeat at Fairyhouse.

However, the Cork trainer will probably lower his sights to a handicap, possibly the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate over two miles five furlongs, rather than a Grade One.

Chatham Street Lad already holds entries in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase, having won the highly-competitive Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month over an extended two and a half miles by 15 lengths.

“We’re still heading to Cheltenham – we’re not too much taken aback,” said Winters, reflecting on the nine-year-old’s 12-length defeat in the Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase.

“He never got into a rhythm – the pace wasn’t right for him.

“I imagine we’ll be going for a handicap there, to be realistic. We’ll be making our mind up about what distance.

“From what he did at Cheltenham last time, we’ll be going back to that kind of trip. I’d imagine that’s where we’ll be looking.”

Winters believes Chatham Street Lad was just not at his best when going off a 7-4 favourite but managing only third to Daly Tiger on Saturday.

He will therefore have a break before preparing for Cheltenham.

“He’ll probably get a freshen-up, and we’ll have him checked out from head to toe to see that everything is right,” added Winters.

“He’s OK – but I don’t think the race went that well for him, with the pace and other little issues. He jumped a bit to the left, so we’ll have that checked out as well and make sure he’s 100 per cent.

“He’s been out in the paddock – he’s fine, but we’re going to freshen him up, check his vaccinations and give him a three-week break and we’ll be rolling on.

“He deserves a break, so we’ll be switching him off and get him swimming. He seems happy enough and he’s sound.

“He may not have been 100 per cent on the day, but he still ran a solid race.

“The thing for us is to get him back to the form he was in at Cheltenham last time. We’ve got plenty of time on our hands – two months.”

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