Winters duo bypass Cheltenham

Mick Winters feels it is unlikely his stable stars Missunited and Rebel Fitz will be lining up at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Missunited enjoyed a tremendous campaign in 2013, running well and winning in Listed company on the Flat before following in the hoof prints of Rebel Fitz to give Winters back-to-back victories in the Galway Hurdle.

She was last seen finishing a fantastic third in the Group One Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp in October and although Winters suggested she could return to the jumping game this spring, with a possible clash with the mighty Quevega at Cheltenham considered, he has now had a change of heart.

Winters said: "She is still with her owner at the moment, but she's going out doing six or seven miles cross-country every morning. I'd say she'll come back to me in maybe a month, but she won't be going to Cheltenham I don't think.

"We did think about the mares' race there, but she's rated 145 over hurdles and Quevega is rated in the 160s, so it would be tough. I think the next time you'll see her will be on the Flat and we are looking at running in one of the long-distance races at Royal Ascot, if all goes well."

Rebel Fitz has won five of his seven starts over fences, but suffered an odds-on reverse on his first run in Britain at Cheltenham in October.

Like Missunited, he has enjoyed a winter break and while he is now back in training, Winters is not sure a return trip to Prestbury Park will bring out the best in his charge.

"He's back in and cantering away, but I think he's more of a home bird than a Cheltenham horse," said the trainer.

"You never know, things can change overnight if some of the big guns drop out, but if he went to Cheltenham, I think it would take him two months to get over it and there is plenty of good money on offer at home.

"I'm not sure where he'll go. The way the weather is at the moment it will be March by the time the ground dries up, so we'll see."