Ruby Walsh, recovering from horrific injuries, expects to ride at the Punchestown Festival later this month – which means the top jockey could feature on Down Royal's big Bank Holiday card.
Walsh dislocated his shoulder and fractured the top of his humerus in a crashing fall from Abbyssial in the Triumph Hurdle at last month's Cheltenham Festival and it looked certain he would miss the rest of the campaign.
But Walsh's injuries appear to be healing faster than expected and he is confident he will be back for the start of the Punchestown Festival on Tuesday, April 29, although he will require an operation in the summer.
Down Royal stage the highly popular Bank Holiday meeting on Monday, May 5, two days after the end of the Punchestown Festival, at which Walsh is in line to ride Ulster-owned double Champion Hurdler Hurricane Fly.
"I'd imagine I will be riding at Punchestown. I got on very well (at Santry with the specialist) and am making great progress," said Walsh.
"My humerus is healing well and the shoulder is very stable," he added.
"If I keep progressing, I would expect to be sitting on a horse in two weeks' time.
"The plan now is to continue with physio and gym work. I had an hour and a half of physio and conditioning.
"I can safely say that if I had ridden 10 lots in the morning, I would not have been blowing as hard or felt as bad afterwards!"
Jennifer Walsh, the rider's sister and agent, said: "The specialist was happy when he went to see him and hopefully he'll be back for Punchestown.
"We haven't made any definite plans regarding when he'll be back, but hopefully he'll be back riding out in a fortnight and we'll go from there."
Walsh's mounts at Punchestown will include top horses such as Vautour, Faugheen, Quevega and Champagne Fever.
Walsh revealed he plans to continue riding until the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil in June, after which an operation will then be necessary.
Meanwhile, Michael Owen expects Brown Panther to take in a warm-up race before the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June.
Last summer's Goodwood Cup winner was most recently seen in November's Melbourne Cup, where he showed up prominently before fading to finish eighth and picked up an injury.
The former top footballer bred the six-year-old and owns him jointly with Andrew Black.
Speaking in his role as a British Champions Series ambassador, Owen said: "We were going to go on to Hong Kong and then Dubai, but he got struck into in Australia.
"He's fine, perfect now and the Ascot Gold Cup is the main aim for the early part of the year.
"There are races at Ascot (Sagaro Stakes), Sandown (Henry II) and York (Yorkshire Cup) as potential stepping stones, but the first main aim is the Ascot Gold Cup."