Nicky Henderson is lining up the Mersey Novices' Hurdle for Walking On Air after running out of time with preparations for the Cheltenham Festival.
Henderson has amassed a brilliant team of novice hurdlers this season, boasting two of the leading contenders for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in Tolworth winner Constitution Hill, who is 2/1 to win that race and two-time Grade 2 victor and 9/2 chance Jonbon.
Walking On Air emerged as another ace in the novice pack when bolting up at Newbury by 13 lengths in January, a race the trainer had won 12 months earlier with expensive purchase Gallyhill.
Owned by Mrs Doreen Tabor, the five-year-old son of Walk In The Park had only run once in a bumper the previous season when he finished second to the smart Gary Moore-trained Shallwehaveonemore.
Walking On The Air had been touted as a Ballymore Novices' Hurdle contender by Henderson, who recently described him as "classy", but he now appears set to be aimed at Aintree rather than the Cheltenham Grade 1 on 16th March.
"We'll probably swerve Cheltenham," the trainer revealed on Saturday when asked about Walking On Air. "I'd have thought that's what we'll do as it's been a bit of a rush.
"I'll talk to Mr and Mrs Tabor and we'll decide any minute now, but in all probability he'll miss that and head for Aintree and the two-and-a-half-mile novice hurdle there."
Henderson, who has landed the Mersey Novices' Hurdle twice with Spirit Son (2011) and Simonsig (2012), could still be represented in the Ballymore with Constitution Hill, I Am Maximus, Jonbon, Russian Ruler and Surrey Quest all entered in Wednesday's opening race at the Cheltenham Festival.