Western Ryder could bid to redeem himself in the Sidney Banks Memorial Novices’ Hurdle at Huntingdon after floundering in the mud in Saturday’s Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown.
Warren Greatrex’s high-class bumper performer unseated Richard Johnson on his hurdling debut at Stratford in November but having bounced back with impressive victories at Chepstow and Cheltenham, he was a hot favourite to claim Saturday’s Grade One feature.
However, the six-year-old finished a well-beaten fourth behind Summerville Boy – who he had previously beaten at Cheltenham – and Greatrex feels conditions were just too testing for his charge.
He said: “He’s absolutely fine this morning so I think we just have to put it down to the ground.
“Richard felt he was OK in the back straight, but then when they turned across the bottom and into the straight, he was literally struggling to lift his legs out of it.
“I know he’d won on heavy ground at Chepstow earlier in the season, but that was a maiden hurdle and when you run in these Grade Ones, you need to tick all the boxes.”
Asked about future plans, the trainer added: “I think we’ll have to give him another run (before the Cheltenham Festival). If things had been different we may have left him, but we obviously want to find out where we stand.
“My initial thought after the race was to head for the Sidney Banks. I’ve won that race for the last two years and two and a half miles around Huntingdon, hopefully on better ground, could suit him well.
“He’d beaten the winner of yesterday’s race nearly six lengths giving him 6lb at Cheltenham, so it clearly wasn’t his running and we’ll just put a line through it and move on.”