Barry Connell is leaning towards heading over fences in the autumn with Marine Nationale ahead of his return to training later this week.
Yet to taste defeat in five starts, the six-year-old was last seen running out a brilliant winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
With his summer break coming to an end, his owner-trainer is beginning to consider plans for the upcoming campaign – and while he would be fully entitled to head down the Champion Hurdle route, he is currently favouring a switch to the larger obstacles.
“He’s coming in at the end of the week and he’s done very well. He got a good, long break because last year he was on the go all summer,” said Connell.
“I’d say we’re more likely to go chasing with him than we are to stay hurdling, so the Arkle looks the obvious target for him.
“He’s a brilliant jumper and he’s nearly a better jumper of fences than he is of hurdles, so that’s the current thinking and we’ll work towards that.
“The campaign kind of maps itself out. You’d be looking at a beginners chase in early November, then Leopardstown at Christmas, the Dublin Racing Festival and Cheltenham.”
Another horse for whom Connell holds high hopes is Good Land, who won a Grade One novice hurdle at last season’s Dublin Racing Festival before finishing fourth in the Ballymore at Cheltenham.
Connell feels he was not at his best in the Cotswolds and is hoping he can scale even greater heights over fences.
He added: “He is in (training) already and he definitely goes chasing. We’d be looking at a beginners chase possibly in October and he can go for the Drinmore at Fairyhouse then.
“He’s an exciting horse. He ran okay in Cheltenham, but when we got him home he was very flat and his bloods weren’t right.
“He was there an extra day and I don’t know if that was the issue because he seemed to be fine, but when Michael (O’Sullivan) got on him and cantered down to the start he just felt he was a little bit dead.
“I’d be hoping that wasn’t his true running and we’re looking forward to going down the two-and-a-half-mile route with him and the two-mile route with the other guy.”