"We're definitely leaning towards the Ballymore" - Sir Gerhard cut for Cheltenham Festival
- We bring you key quotes from Cheveley Park Stud's Richard Thompson
- Sir Gerhard sits prominently in the betting for both the Supreme and the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle
- Thompson has revealed to Sky Sports today that the team are leaning towards the Ballymore
Jockey Rachael Blackmore on Sir Gerhard celebrates victory after the Weatherbys Champion Bumper. (Getty)
Sir Gerhard held on to defeat Kilcruit in the Champion Bumper 12 months ago and Willie Mullins' charge has taken to hurdles well this season.
Following an easy maiden win over Christmas, Paul Townend's mount made the running and held Three Stripe Life comfortably at arm's length to win at the Dublin Racing Festival. On the back of that Grade One success, Sir Gerhard was slashed in the betting for the Supreme.
After the Dublin Racing Festival, Willie Mullins claimed that there was a decent chance that Sir Gerhard could be stepped up for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle. Since then, experts and pundits alike have been split as to which race last year's Champion Bumper winner should go for.
Richard Thompson of owners, Cheveley Park Stud spoke to Sky Sports Racing today. Thompson was asked which race Sir Gerhard would run in and he gave a compelling answer.
"We're definitely leaning towards the Ballymore." Thompson said today. "I can't give you a decision as yet because Willie (Mullins) is still mulling it over until the wire. It looks like the Ballymore on balance but there's no final decision yet."
Thompson continued, "Willie will look at the final shake-up of each race but Sir Gerhard definitely can get the Ballymore trip. I think he could win either, but the Supreme is at the moment is the stronger race, there's no question.
"It's a fine balance but if at the end of the day if Willie says that he's a horse that can compete in both and the Ballymore is the slightly weaker race, then of course the Ballymore would be the race we'd go for."
"We felt his jumping was a bit scrappy on the first half of the race but he jumped better and better as the race went on and won well," Thompson said of the Grade 1 success. "He's definitely got to make some improvements with his jumping but overall we couldn't complain – he won a Grade 1 and he won it well. Fingers crossed whatever race he goes for he puts up a good performance."
Coral was one of the first bookmakers to react to this news, cutting Sir Gerhard into 8/11 for the Ballymore, and pushing Mullins' runner out to 9/4 in the Supreme betting.
Thompson also revealed that two-time Cheltenham Festival winner, Envoi Allen will likely sidestep a clash with fellow flag-bearer Allaho and run in the Champion Chase. Coral make Envoi Allen a 18/1 shot in their Champion Chase betting, where Shishkin is the 8/13 favourite.
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