Gold Cup bid unlikely for Dude

Michael Scudamore is still debating which way to prepare Monbeg Dude ahead of his main assignment of the Crabbie's Grand National.

An outing over fences at some point in late February or early March would appear to be Scudamore's preference at the moment, although another start in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, in which he was pulled up last year, is less favoured.

Last season's Welsh National winner struck for the first time since that occasion when taking a Grade Three at Cheltenham's December meeting.

It sparked Aintree dreams for his syndicate of owners, rugby players Mike Tindall, James Simpson-Daniel and Nicky Robinson, while Tindall's wife Zara Phillips has been coaching Monbeg Dude in the jumping department.

"He had a couple of weeks off but he's back cantering and is in great form," said Scudamore. "I think it's really all roads to the National, and I don't think he will run again until the weights come out.

"He's a novice over hurdles, so that's an option, but he jumped so well last time you might want to keep him over fences. There aren't a whole lot of options over fences in between, and I haven't spoken to the boys yet.

"I might put him in the Gold Cup, just in case he didn't take to schooling over the Aintree fences or something, but it would be very much an outside chance he'd go for it. He would have a lot to find on the ratings and it's just over three weeks away from the National."