Rebel Fitz might not be seen in competitive action until the Punchestown Festival in the spring as he continues to recover from a recent setback.

Having struck at Grade One level for the first time in the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in April, the nine-year-old made a winning return in a Flat race at Listowel in September before landing the Istabraq Hurdle at Tipperary.

Trainer Mick Winters had been eyeing either the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase or the Hilly Way Chase at Cork as a potential next target, but plans were put on hold after he was found to have fluid on a joint.

An MRI scan at Troytown Equine Hospital last month revealed he had suffered no major damage, but Winters has decided to give his stable star the rest of the winter off to ensure he is back firing on all cylinders next year.

Winters said: "The scan wasn't really very conclusive, but nothing major showed up anyway, which is good.

"I think it was more of a reaction to knocking his joint than anything and we're just going to take it easy with him for a few weeks.

"We thought we might run him in the race in Cork (Hilly Way Chase) originally, but in fairness, with the way the ground was, he wouldn't have been running there anyway.

"I'd say now we'll just follow a similar programme to last year. We know he doesn't really want winter ground anyway, so we'll just give him plenty of time and bring him back in the spring time.

"There's the hurdle race he won at Cork at the end of March. We'll look at that, although he might not qualify this season.

"It could be that we just wait and run him in something at Punchestown. We could do that, as he's not a horse that takes a lot of getting fit.

"Then we could maybe kick on during the summer with him if there was a bit of nice ground.

"He's comfortable and happy and if anything he's too fresh. We're just going to have to keep a lid on him."