Quito De La Roque, as short as 14/1 with some firms for the Grade 1 RSA Chase at the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival, will instead tackle the four-mile National Hunt Chase, the opening event on day two of what promises to be a spectacular four days at Prestbury Park next week, writes Elliot Slater.
Trainer Colm Murphy has taken his time in reaching a decision as to which races offers the best chance for his up-and-coming novice, and after giving it much thought has decided to forego the opportunity to take on the cream of the three-mile novice chasers with the seven-year-old winner of his two most recent outings, both in Grade 2 company.
Murphy has few doubts that the Saint Des Saints gelding has the required stamina to see out the extended trip in a race restricted to amateur riders, and granted some cut in the ground looks sure to go into the race with seriously good prospects of at least making the frame. Bookmakers are clearly having difficulties assessing just how the seven-year-old's form measures up to his rivals, with one firm making him 6/1 joint-favourite in the Cheltenham odds, with others go as big as 12/1 about his chances.
With the first five in the ante-post betting for the race all trained in Ireland it's looking as though the home team (led potentially by Beshabar and possibly Wayward Prince), will have a serious fight on their hands stopping the Irish from winning the prize for the first time since Ian Duncan's Another Rum scored in 2005.
Quito De La Roque's only defeat in four starts this term came when narrowly beaten in the Grade 1 Fort Leney Novices Chase at Leopardstown's Christmas fixture, form that is arguably better than anything else entered for the prestigious staying contest.
Meanwhile, after the Cheltenham Festival is over, racing fans will have the Grand National 2011 to look forward to.
Currently, The Midnight Club is favourite, but with seven horses just behind him as co-favourites it looks set to be a tight contest.