Morris keeps faith with Lieutenant

  • Last Updated: February 12 2014, 10:29 GMT

First Lieutenant's Cheltenham Festival target is likely to be dictated by the ground.

First Lieutenant: Cheltenham options open
First Lieutenant: Cheltenham options open

Trainer Mouse Morris felt the high-calibre nine-year-old was hamstrung by soft going at Leopardstown on Sunday when he finished third behind Last Instalment in the Irish Hennessy Gold Cup.

First Lieutenant holds entries in the Betfred Gold Cup and in the Ryanair Chase, but Morris will not commit to either race until he has a better handle on what conditions will be like at Cheltenham in March.

He said: "There's not a bother on him, and you'd have to put Leopardstown down to the ground.

"You can't take anything away from the winner, but our lad only jumped okay in that ground. He still ran his usual, consistent race, though, so we weren't too disappointed.

"I haven't talked to the owners yet, but it (Cheltenham target) depends on the ground.

"If the ground comes up soft it will be probably be the Ryanair, but if it came up good it will probably be the other one (Gold Cup).

"I wouldn't be advising anyone to back him for either race just yet."