Bayan on French mission with Coral entry a back-up plan
Ladbroke Hurdle winner Bayan is on target for the Prix Juigne at Auteuil on March 1 which would make him unlikely to take up his entry in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
Gordon Elliott's six-year-old has been a star for connections, rarely running a bad race either on the Flat or over hurdles.
He is prominent in the betting for the Coral Cup with the sponsors but part-owner Gary O'Brien said he would only run if something untoward were to happen before the French race which is worth r135,000.
"Plan A is to go to France," said O'Brien. "We've put him in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham just in case something happens like he has travel issues or something.
"He certainly wouldn't run in both."
Bayan is one of 156 entries in the Coral Cup with Activial, Quick Jack and Regal Encore the 10-1 co-favourites.
In total there were a mammoth 1023 entries for the 11 handicaps, with Grand National favourite Shutthefrontdooor one of the 89 in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase on the first day.
The Cheltenham Club Novices' Handicap Chase has 65 possibles, including Nick Gifford's course winner Generous Ransom.
Paddy Power one-two Caid Du Berlais and Johns Spirit could re-oppose in the £90,000 Grade Three Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, for which 86 were entered.
Monbeg Dude has been put in the Kim Muir as well as the Ultima Business Solutions, with Irving and Tiger Roll among 123 in the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle.
Sire De Grugy, meanwhile, is set to have a second prep run for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Chepstow otomorrow.
Trainer Gary Moore reports his stable star on course to make a surprise appearance in the Rifles Handicap Chase Supporting Care For Casualties ahead of his bid to retain his crown at the Cheltenham Festival on March 11.
"He schooled very well and I'm very pleased with him," said Moore. "Jamie (Moore) rode him and he jumped enough fences."