Tidal Bay winning at Leopardstown
©Healy Racing Photos
Tidal Bay looks set to bid for big spring double with tilts at the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and John Smith's Grand National on the cards.
Graham Wylie's 12-year-old has been brilliantly coaxed back to his best by Paul Nicholls this season, winning the Lexus Chase over Christmas.
That led to speculation he could be aimed at the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup but connections are leaning towards a run over hurdles next month.
Writing in his exclusive blog at www.betfair.com/paulnicholls the champion trainer said: "We have yet to finalise plans but we are now highly likely to run Tidal Bay in the World Hurdle.
"Of course, we will leave him in the Gold Cup until the last minute, but as it stands our plan with him is the World Hurdle and then the Grand National.
"He will go straight to Cheltenham but two of our other big Festival hopes run next weekend. Zarkandar will go for the Kingwell at Wincanton, and Rocky Creek goes to the Reynoldstown at Ascot."
Nicholls does have a leading Gold Cup fancy in Silviniaco Conti who won Saturday's Betfair Denman Chase despite connections leaving plenty to work on in terms of fitness.
"People don't believe you when you say you have left a lot to work on with horses in these prep races - they think it is a matter of getting your excuses in early - but, trust me, that would have been like his first run of the season for him. So it was a great result, with so much to build on fitness-wise," Nicholls added.