Ch’Tibello’s part-owner Ian Marmion has confirmed that his charge may struggle to prove his fitness ahead of the Champion Hurdle.
Ch’Tibello, 26.00 to win the race at Cheltenham, was in fine form last weekend as he finished second at Wincanton.
The six-year-old competed in the Betway Kingwell Hurdle but he could not do enough to get past Yanworth.
Marmion has confirmed that Ch’Tibello underwent a small procedure on his wind, but he now insists the bay gelding is a 50-50 chance to compete at Prestbury Park in March.
He told reporters: “He’s had his palate cauterized but he’s all been done and he’s fine. “Obviously it will be very tight for Cheltenham now, it’s a 50-50 call.
It will be the first time he’s ever been there and we just felt if there was an issue with his breathing, the hill would find him out and he wouldn’t do himself justice.
“If he isn’t right in time, then he’ll go straight to Punchestown. He’d be a 25/1 chance in an open Champion Hurdle or third or fourth favourite probably at Punchestown.
“I felt he ran an almost identical race at Wincanton to that he did (in the Christmas Hurdle) at Kempton when you take the weight difference into account.
“Kempton was his first day against the big boys and he looked a bit shell-shocked, but on Saturday I thought he was going to win at the last.”
Buveur Dair is the market leader for the Champion Hurdle at 3.50, while Yanworth is now priced at 5.00 to win the race.