Alderwood eyes Champion run

Tom Mullins "can't afford any blips" with Alderwood if he is to run in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The nine-year-old is already a dual Festival winner, having landed the County Hurdle in 2012 and the Grand Annual last year, but his season so far has not gone according to plan.

He finished a well-beaten fourth on his return to action at Naas at the end of October and has since been sidelined by injury.

Mullins said: "He suffered a hairline fracture to his pastern after his first run back at Naas and he had to have a month off.

"He came back in just after Christmas and we've been playing catch-up with him since, so we're just taking it day by day.

"I'm happy with him at the moment and he is very well in himself, but we do need everything to go right for next five weeks.

"If anything went wrong, he wouldn't make it to Cheltenham, I don't think. We can't afford any blips.

"There are very few options for him between now and Cheltenham and we'll just have to see how we go.

"There is the Red Mills Hurdle in Gowran (February 15) and there is a race at Naas at the end of February, but I think that's about it. He could even go straight to Cheltenham.

"Hopefully he does make it (to Cheltenham) as we know he loves it there and raises his game."