Gilgamboa has been ruled out of the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday.
Enda Bolger’s six-year-old was an impressive winner of the Boylesports.com Hurdle at Leopardstown little over a week ago, but connections feels this weekend’s Grade Three handicap will come too soon.
The JP McManus-owned gelding is now likely to be prepared for a trip to the Cheltenham Festival in March, where he holds entries in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.
Bolger said: “He’s been struck out of the Newbury race. He’s not running.
“Cheltenham is probably the next option for him. He’s going to have a few entries and I’m not sure which race he’ll go for at this stage.
“We’ll see nearer the time.”
Jeremy Scott’s stable star Melodic Rendezvous heads 29 horses still in contention.
Champion trainer Nicky Henderson has a strong hand with Rolling Star, Gibb River, Snake Eyes and Vasco Du Ronceray.
Ante-post favourite Irving is one of three possible runners for Paul Nicholls, with the Ditcheat maestro also responsible for leading hope Irish Saint and Far West.
Nicholls said: “Irish Saint is a few pounds well in, Noel Fehily rode him last time and will do again.
“I’m keen to run Irving, but I’d be very concerned about the ground if it’s testing so we’ll see how it pans out.
“I kept Far West in at the last minute, he has the same owners as Irving and it gives them options if he doesn’t run.”
David Pipe’s Greatwood Hurdle winner Dell’ Arca, Willie Mullins’ Irish raider Smashing and the Philip Hobbs-trained Cheltenian are other notable contenders in a wide-open contest.
Cheltenian was sidelined for almost two years by injury after winning the 2011 Champion Bumper, but looked as good as ever when getting off the mark over hurdles at Uttoxeter on New Year’s Eve.
Regular jockey Richard Johnson told At The Races: “He’s one of the intended runners. He’s got a light weight and fingers crossed all goes well.
“He wont mind the ground and a fast-run race will suit him well.”
Meanwhile, Captain Starlight looks a pretty engaging prospect in the Ladbrokes Handicap at Lingfield tomorrow.
Jo Hughes’ four-year-old has very few miles on the clock for a horse his age and has been unearthed a decent opportunity with which to consolidate upon a good return to action at Kempton last month.
The gelded son of Captain Marvelous had been sidelined since last July, so clearly needed the outing in a one-mile handicap at the Sunbury venue.