Noel Meade is mulling over options for promising chaser Thedevilscoachman that include the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse on Sunday week.
A high-class hurdler, he shaped encouragingly when third to crack chaser Ferny Hollow on his first start over fences at Punchestown in December, before finishing runner-up to Saint Sam at Fairyhouse the following month.
The six-year-old, who is owned by JP McManus, signed off last season with victory in the Grade Two Boyne Hurdle at Navan and underlined his potential back over the bigger obstacles when opening his account in a beginners’ event at Galway last month.
However, like so many others, Meade says he is frustrated by the quicker ground following a scorching summer and relatively dry autumn, and is hoping recent rain will start to get into the ground.
“I don’t know what the plan is. The weather is the plan. I suppose we just have to wait,” said Meade.
“We have had a lot of rain recently and he possibly might run in the Drinmore.
“He might. We haven’t decided on that yet, but it is the next possible race.
“The crazy thing is we have had quite a lot of rain, but it doesn’t seem to be getting into the ground the same way as usual.
“I’m inclined to think it is the lack of frost. The grass is taking the water out of the ground and until you get the frost, and the ground to open up a bit, it doesn’t seem to get into it. But it is what it is.”
Should he tackle the extended two-mile-three-furlong Bar One Racing-sponsored Drinmore, Thedevilscoachman will bid to emulate Beacon Edge, who landed the Grade One event for the yard last season.
However, things have not gone according to plan since, and he has not taken to fences as hoped following a fall in the Ladbrokes Novice Chase at Leopardstown in February.
Hopes that he would impress in this sphere after a summer break were dashed when he finished last of five to Envoi Allen in the Irish Champion Chase at Down Royal last month.
Now connections of the Gigginstown House Stud-owned eight-year-old will chart a different course.
Meade said: “He ran very disappointingly. Since he got the fall, his chasing has gone downhill. He just doesn’t seem to have the bottle for it. We have now decided that the rest of his career will continue over hurdles. I would say, at Christmas, he would probably come out in one of those conditions races over a trip."
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