Trainer Willie Mullins insists Penhill is making good progress as he prepares to defend his Stayers Hurdle title next month at the Cheltenham Festival.
The eight-year-old produced a stunning display at Prestbury Park 12 months ago and got into a commanding position before powering home to victory. He was last seen finishing second at the Punchestown Festival in April 2018 and connections have planned a cautious approach for 2019.
Penhill has yet to run this calendar year although Mullins insists he is looking good in training ahead of the big meeting in March.
“To me, he was never going to have a run before Cheltenham this season,” Mullins said.
“I spoke to the connections and decided that’s what we’d do.
“You’d rather get runs into them – but what’s the point in running in Punchestown or Leopardstown and finding out you can’t get him to Cheltenham? “Last year it wasn’t the plan – it’s just the way it worked out.
This year, it seemed the obvious thing to do. He’s fine. He went away yesterday and is coming along nicely.
“I hope we can get him there. Every morning you’re looking at him to make sure that he’s alright. He’s going to have a few more searching bits of work between now and Cheltenham.”
Despite being the defending champion, Penhill is as big as 6.00 to win the renewal. Paisley Park is the 3.00 favourite this time around, with Apple’s Jade available at the same price after her recent impressive win.