Jonjo O’Neill is not ruling out a Cheltenham Festival appearance for Monbeg Genius after a disappointing effort at Kelso on Saturday.
The eight-year-old was among the leading lights in the ante-post market for the Randox Grand National prior to his outing in the Premier Chase, which was a first run since finishing third in the Coral Gold Cup back in December.
Minor setbacks scuppered his intended runs since and there was concern his season could be curtailed after assets linked to owners Baroness Michelle Mone and her husband Doug Barrowman were made the subject of a restraint order, but the British Horseracing Authority subsequently confirmed Monbeg Genius would not be affected.
Sent off a 5-2 chance at Kelso, Monbeg Genius trailed home in fifth place, beaten 38 lengths by Thunder Rock, and O’Neill could give him a chance to redeem himself in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Tuesday week, a race in which he finished third last year.
He told Sky Sports Racing: “He’s fine but it was disappointing really, we were expecting a better show than that, to be fair.
“He’ll have to come on a lot, but he’s come out of it fine and we might even give him another spin at Cheltenham, we’ll see. It wasn’t the plan but he might come on a bit more.
“The practice might help, he didn’t jump great yesterday, he didn’t do anything that we hoped he would, so let’s see how he is.
“He’s in at Cheltenham, so we’ll have a look and see.”
Monbeg Genius is now a best-priced 33-1 shot for Aintree on April 13.
O’Neill is also keeping his options open with exciting bumper prospect Mister Meggit following his facile success in the Download The Racecourse App Raceday Ready Open NH Flat Race at Doncaster.
Having won by a dozen lengths on his Carlisle debut in November, the six-year-old hacked up by four and three-quarter lengths at 8-15 at Town Moor following a 119-day absence.
Coral cut Mister Meggit from 25-1 to 16-1 for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and O’Neill said: “When I was looking at him in the paddock, I was thinking ‘what are we doing here?’ because he’s a shelly little horse. But he’s obviously got an engine and I was very pleased with that.
“It’s hard to know with a four-runner race, but he did it really sweetly at Carlisle as well. He doesn’t show you up at home or anything like that but when he gets down here, he’s obviously a fair horse.
“We’ll see how he is, there’s Liverpool as well. He’s a very shelly horse, so we’ll just have to see how he comes out of it. He did look good, though.”