Connections of Sebastopol are taking a patient approach with his return and they will wait for better ground ahead of Cheltenham.

Tom Lacey admits the forecast will play its part in deciding when Sebastopol makes his return to action.

Connections of the six-year-old have ambitions of a run at the Cheltenham Festival but he is currently enjoying a rest after an encouraging return in the autumn.

A win at Wincanton kicked off his season in style before he finished fourth in a decent Handicap Hurdle at Huntingdon in November.

That run at Huntingdon raised eyebrows with Sebastopol having been the ante-post favourite for the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham’s November Meeting.

An outing at Prestbury Park on January 25 now looks likely ahead of a Festival debut in the spring.

Sebastopol is being considered for the County Handicap Hurdle, while the Ballymore Novices Hurdle also appears a feasible option.

Lacey said he spoke to Brian Hughes following that run at Huntingdon and was happy to listen to the jockey’s advice about resting his charge.

After being checked over, the Herefordshire-trainer says he is confident Sebastopol will be ready to contend a week on Saturday, just as long as the ground suits.

“After he finished fourth at Huntington, Brian Hughes said he was going very well and then all of a sudden the horse made a noise,” he said. “He’s been examined and will run in a tongue tie the next time.

“I’m thinking of Cheltenham on the 25th, although the ground would need to be better by then.

“There will be some nice races for him in the spring. He doesn’t take a lot of hard graft to get ready. It’s a case of drawing a line through his last run and being patient.”

Gordon Elliott’s Envoi Allen leads the betting for the Ballymore at 5/4, with stablemate Easywork 8/1.

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