The Real Whacker will make his seasonal reappearance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in a fortnight’s time, after connections opted against Sunday’s Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle.
The seven-year-old enjoyed a tremendous novice campaign over fences last season for North Yorkshire-based Irishman Patrick Neville, winning each of his three starts at Cheltenham including a narrow victory over Gerri Colombe in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Festival in March.
This weekend’s Listed event in Cumbria appeared an ideal starting point on the road to a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the spring – but with testing conditions forecast, he will instead carry top-weight of 12st in one of the season’s first major handicaps at Prestbury Park on November 18.
Neville said: “I’m not going to go to Carlisle as the ground is too heavy at the moment. It’s his first run back, so we said we’d wait for Cheltenham and go for the Paddy Power.
“Hopefully the ground will be a lot better at Cheltenham and we know he likes the track. He’ll have top-weight, but it’ll be his first run back and a starting point for the year.
“He’s in great shape, I couldn’t be happier with him. Sam (Twiston-Davies) came up to Middleham during the week and sat on him for the first time since Cheltenham in March and he was very happy.
“Carlisle would have been a lovely starting point, but on heavy ground around there we just decided we didn’t want to do that to him first time out.”