Road To Respect has yet to return to full training, but Noel Meade still hopes the four-time Grade One winner could make it back in time for the spring festivals.
The nine-year-old was last seen finishing third in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown last Christmas – after which he picked up an injury, which Meade tends to feel was down to the quick ground at that meeting.
He had previously beaten dual King George winner Clan Des Obeaux in the Down Royal Champion Chase.
“Road To Respect had a little bit of filling in his leg after doing his tendon at Leopardstown,” said Meade.
“Over the last couple of years, it’s been very quick there, and we ended up having to fire him.
“He’s not back in training yet – I would hope he’ll be back in the next month or so and that he might be able to run in the spring.
“But, until we have him back and put him back in the gym, we really won’t know whether he’s going to be back this season or not.
“He’s a genuine Grade One staying chaser – but to be honest, the ground at Leopardstown has been a bit of his undoing. I don’t think he got over his run there the year before last (beaten a short-head by Bellshill) before he went to Cheltenham.
“He probably struggled to get the Gold Cup trip – three miles might be as far as he wants, but it’s hard to say that.
“A lot of times in the Gold Cup horses who stay three miles don’t actually get those last two furlongs, because it’s a real stamina-sapping contest.”