Ronan McNally intends to alter his course after the travel implications of Covid-19 and Brexit scuppered December plans for both The Jam Man and Dreal Deal.
Dreal Deal, who is unbeaten in his last five runs over jumps and on the Flat, was an intended runner in the Grade One Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury on Tuesday – having elevated his rating to 141 – but travel restrictions put paid to that idea.
McNally’s Armagh yard was struck with a cold at around the same time, resulting in a week of steadier work as the trainer reconsidered where next to campaign his string.
“We’ve no real plans for Dreal Deal – he’s entered in a Grade One novice at Naas, but he probably won’t go for that,” McNally said, referencing the Naas Novice Hurdle on January 10.
“My horses all had an easy week last week, because they all just had a wee bit of a cold. I’m not sure what the plan is with him at the moment, so we’ll just get them going again and see what’s coming up for them.
“They’re back cantering up the gallop and they all seem 100 per cent. We’ll just have to make a new plan – we couldn’t have gone to Newbury anyway with the travel restrictions, so that was out of the question, and I wasn’t too bothered about giving them an easy time over Christmas. We’ll regroup now and have a look at what’s coming up.”
McNally’s versatile stable star The Jam Man was also prevented from running in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot just before Christmas by travel problems.
“We couldn’t get the boats – some of the boats were off because of the coronavirus, and that led to a backlog,” he said.
“Because of Brexit they were all rushing to the boats, all of the lorries. We would have had to sit at the boat for five to seven hours because of delays – and that wasn’t viable with the horse in the truck, so we couldn’t actually get a boat to take us over.”
An entry in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown on Monday was also vetoed as the seven-year-old works back to race fitness after his break, so the Dublin Racing Festival at the same track is pencilled in for his next engagement.
“He was entered in the Pertemps at Leopardstown – but with him having an easy week, we’ve had to put that on hold,” added McNally.
“Again we’ll just have to look for something – it’s not that easy to find races for him with his rating, so we’ll just have a wee look at the calendar here and see if there’s anything for him.
“It might be the Dublin Festival, realistically, before he gets a run in February. We’ll have a look and see if there’s anything else in the meantime.”
The Jam Man is a winner on the Flat, over fences and over hurdles, but McNally intends to stick to timber – provided The Jam Man continues to prosper in that sphere.
“I’d say for the minute we’d be sticking over hurdles,” he said.
“If he doesn’t prove that he’s going to be able to be competitive over hurdles, then I’d probably look at something like an Irish Grand National over fences.
“I’d like to get him in one of the Stayers’ Hurdle trials just to see if he’s going to be competitive. If he’s not going to be competitive, he won’t run in it – we’ll look for something more suitable.”