Top unbeaten northern novice Soft Risk will bypass the Cheltenham Festival in March in favour of a possible tilt at the Grade 1 Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr the following month.
The six-year-old has raced exclusively in Scotland for Cumbrian trainer Nicky Richards where he has won on a bumper and then three novice hurdles, most recently at Kelso last Sunday.
Despite carrying a double penalty on that occasion, Soft Risk still had plenty in hand of runner-up Travail D'Orfevre to whom he was conceding 17lb.
Richards knows all about Grade 1 glory having guided classy chaser Monet's Garden to three wins at that level and he hopes Soft Risk can take him back to the top table.
Richards said: "Monet's Garden was a very good horse from the very first day he walked on a racetrack and this horse is very similar. I've got a bunch of nice horses similar to him as well and we don't have that real flagbearer at the moment, but Soft Risk is a lovely horse to have. People are starting to talk about him more and let's hope he can carry us a long way."
A return to Kelso is on the cards for Soft Risk in the Grade 2 Premier Hurdle on 5th March before a possible tilt at the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr on 2nd April.
Richards said: "I would've thought the Premier Hurdle will be on the agenda for his next run, but he'll need the ground in his favour. It was very dead on Sunday and not many horses like that, but he went through it."
He added: "We've sort of half-thought about the Scottish Champion Hurdle too, they'll be the two races if things go to plan and it'll be interesting to see what handicap mark he gets."