Mannon goes on trial in Deloitte
(Healy Racing Photos)
The three-time bumper winner was an excellent fourth in last season's Champion Bumper at Prestbury Park, finishing ahead of a couple of this term's leading novice hurdlers in Jezki and The New One.
Moscow Mannon himself could have done no more than win impressively on his debut over obstacles at Navan in early December and having missed a subsequent engagement after suffering a setback, trainer Brian Hamilton seeks to find out whether his star turn is up to going back to Cheltenham in March.
Hamilton said: "The plan is to go for the Deloitte at the moment and that will obviously tell us a lot more about where we're going with him.
"We had hoped to run him in the Slaney Novice Hurdle at Naas earlier in the month but he got a bit of an infection and had a bit of a dirty nose, so we had to give him an easy 10 days.
"He's back in work now and scoped clean the other day, so I think he'll be ready for the Deloitte. He worked very well in Dundalk on Sunday."
Moscow Mannon has been entered in both the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Hamilton said: "We'd ideally have liked to have give him another run, but his jumping was reasonably good the last day and he'll get a bit more experience from running in the Deloitte. Hopefully there won't be too many runners.
"He's entered for the two races in Cheltenham to keep our options open as everything is a bit up in the air at the moment.
"I'd imagine if it was soft or heavy he'd run in the Supreme and if it was good ground he could go for the longer race, that's if he's good enough to go there, which we'll find out at Leopardstown.
"The form of his Champion Bumper run entitles him to be entered for Cheltenham again this time, but his next run will tell us a lot."
Ted Walsh will make a decision after working Seabass this weekend regarding his participation in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Saturday week.