Henry de Bromhead remains keen to head to next month’s Savills Chase at Leopardstown with A Plus Tard after so far failing to find an obvious reason for his disappointing return to action at Haydock on Saturday.
The Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding was a brilliant winner of the Betfair Chase 12 months ago and was unsurprisingly a short price to double up on his first start since claiming Gold Cup glory in March.
But A Plus Tard failed to travel or jump with his trademark enthusiasm and Rachael Blackmore pulled him up early in the home straight.
De Bromhead remains perplexed by the performance – but if nothing comes to light over the coming days he will put a line through it and move on.
“Nothing (has shown up) as yet. I just saw him this morning and he trotted out perfect,” the County Waterford handler said on Monday.
“We just don’t know at the moment. Our vet was doing a lot of things with him this morning and I haven’t spoken to him since.
“His bloods have been checked and his heart. His bloods were done last Monday and they were perfect, I think the racecourse checked his heart straight after and he scoped and he was perfect.
“He’s moving perfect. People were saying he was a bit reluctant to go down to the start, I didn’t see that. Genuinely I don’t know.”
It was put to De Bromhead that perhaps A Plus Tard was still feeling the effects of his Gold Cup success eight months ago, but he finds it difficult to subscribe to that theory given how well he had been working in his preparation.
He added: “I’d say you always have a hard race in the Gold Cup, but he came back looking great, we were delighted with him and his work has been amazing. He worked really well 10 days or two weeks ago.
“Could it be as simple as the ground? I definitely felt we didn’t travel as well or jump as well as we did last year, or as we normally would, but he can do that – I thought in the Gold Cup at stages he wasn’t blowing me away.
“I just hoped like in the previous year he locked on turning in and I thought for a little bit he was starting to travel, but he got in tight to one of them and that was it.
“Rachael said she was never happy and I felt it was too bad to be down to the ground. We’re stunned really about it.”
De Bromhead is not giving up hope of making the Savills Chase on December 28th, a race A Plus Tard won two years ago and finished a close second to Galvin in last season.
He said: “You’ve still got the guts of six weeks to the Savills Chase. We’d love to go there once we feel he’s right, but obviously we’ll be doing every test we can between now and then to make sure he’s right.
“Of course you’d prefer to have a reason, without it being a career-ending one, but sometimes you don’t and they come back anyhow.”