Where will they run at Cheltenham … Grands Crus?
Even David Pipe had no reason for Grands Crus’ latest flop in the Argento Chase and the suggestions are that there is something physically wrong with the grey.
There is certainly the opinion in many spheres that the horse will never rediscover his best form that saw him finish in front of Cheltenham Gold Cup favourites Bob’s Worth and Silviniaco Conti in the Feltham Novices’ Chase last season.
A crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup must now be completely written off and if the horse does even make it to the Festival now, it will surely be in either the Ryanair Chase or the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
Having not got home in the King George and then being beaten a long way in the Argento, there may be the feeling that Grands Crus does not stay 3m now.
If this is the thought process, the Ryanair would make some sense over 2m4f, although this is warming up to be an especially hot contest if the likes of Flemenstar, Sizing Europe and Riverside Theatre all line up.
However, it may prove to be the ground that is the biggest hindrance for Grands Crus rather than a new-found lack of stamina.
When the ground has been good to soft or faster in his career, Grands Crus has won six of 10 starts and finished second on another two occasions.
In comparison, when conditions have been soft or worse, Grands Crus has triumphed in just one of eight starts, pulling up twice.
He has previously finished second in the 2011 Ladbrokes World Hurdle, pushing Big Buck’s all the way, and if the March ground is not overly soft this has to be the best bet for his prospects.
A return to hurdles looks the only logical thing to try now and he would not be the first to fail to make the anticipated switch to the larger obstacles.
Punchestowns, Peddlers Cross and Crack Away Jack are others that were expected to make the required switch in the last decade.
Grands Crus is 14/1 to win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and given the uncertainty of many entrants, this now looks his clear best hope of Cheltenham Festival success.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date