Trainer Philip Hobbs and connections will try and leave their decision as to what race Thyme Hill will enter at the Cheltenham festival to the last minute with the unbeaten hurdler having entries for two Grade Ones at Prestbury Park.
The five year old gelding has been remarkable all season winning all three of his contests in great style and showing a clear staying ability.
He started his life over hurdles at Chepstow in the Grade Two Persian War Novices Hurdle and seeing off some smart youngsters that have since gone on to frank that form including Grade One winner Fiddlerontheroof.
The gelding then went to Cheltenham in the Grade Two Ballymore Novices Hurdle and again put in a strong winning run to enhance his credentials in this division.
He was destined for big things off the back of his third in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham last season and fulfilled his potential for the term when landing the Grade One Challow Hurdle at Newbury.
(Credit At The Races) Hobbs said: “Thyme Hill is is absolutely fine. He is not the most robust horse, though he is better than last season.
“He wouldn’t be physically as tough as some and as a result it makes sense not to run him before Cheltenham, so we are giving him a nice easy time at the moment. We will get some more condition on him before building up towards Cheltenham.
“My first reaction having watched the Challow is that it wasn’t as good a performance as his previous runs over hurdles. However, Richard disagreed and thought he was slightly outside his comfort zone going as quick as they did. As a result his jumping at times wasn’t as good as it could be, as in other races he has jumped better.
“Hopefully the race will have taught him a fair bit and he will improve for that. He will have the two options (at Cheltenham), but I wouldn’t think the Albert Bartlett will be very likely if it is very soft, as I’m not sure he would want a slog.
“The ground will be an important thing, so there is no point deciding at this stage.”