REBECCA CURTIS'S season may have been slightly slowed up by a bad batch of hay that effected her runners in November but the wheels are all fully back in motion as she looks forward to a productive Spring.
From her Fforest Farm in Newport, Pembrokeshire she has enviable record of having sent out a winner at each of the past four Cheltenham Festivals with Irish Cavalier successful last March in the Listed Chaps Restaurant Novices Handicap Chase and even more prestigious victories achieved with O'Faolains Boy in the Grade 1 RSA Chase in 2014, with At Fishers Cross in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices Chase in 2013 and Tea For Three setting the ball rolling in the 2012 National Hunt Chase.
Rebecca is hoping that At Fishers Cross and O'Faolains Boy will be in the Festival mix once more and has hopes that the exciting Mystical Knight could enter calculations for the Albert Bartlett.
There are several other exciting prospect she has in mind for the Spring and Rebecca kindly spoke to Tony Elves of At The Races about her hopes.
AT FISHERS CROSS
9 b g Oscar - Fermoy Surprise
Winner of eight of his 20 starts. Classy staying hurdler who finished fourth, beaten only six and three quarter lengths, to Cole Harden in the Grade 1 World Hurdle at Cheltenham (3m) last March. Currently rated 157 over hurdles.
"He is in good form and came back quite late. The plan is to get him ready for the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham at the end of this month. We are looking forward to getting him out and the main aim will be the World Hurdle and then onto Aintree. He has been a hard horse to keep sound and he's a bit fragile but obviously has loads of ability."
7 b g Old Vic - North Star Poly
Winner of two of his 15 starts. Creditable fourth, beaten only two and three quarter lengths, to Whats Happening at Cheltenham (3m 1f) in October and suffered setback when pulled up at that course the following month. Currently rated 131 over fences.
"We were planning to get him ready for the Welsh National but unfortunately he pulled muscles in his back quite badly at Cheltenham which is why he ran so shockingly that day. He is nearly 100 per cent but we need to give him another week and if he keeps progressing he could be a National horse some day."
6 gr g Martaline - Ombrelle
Winner of one of his three starts. Scored by a length from Air Horse One in a bumper at Cheltenham in October.
"He won a bumper at Cheltenham and finished third in the listed bumper at the Paddy Power meeting. He will make a nice novice chaser and will be out in the next couple of weeks."
6 ch m Nickname - Option D'Estruval
Winner of three of her 8 starts. Gained her last success in a listed mares race at Sandown (2m 4f) in January of last year when beating Dark Spirit two lengths when trained by John Quinn. Currently rated 144.
"I was very pleased with her last run and she had it all to do against the boys who were rated more highly than her at Cheltenham but we had to get a run into her. I thought she ran well first time back and she seemed to like the track and the main aim will be the Mares' Hurdle at the Festival in March. We will probably get one more run in before then."
BEAST OF BURDEN
7 ch g Flemensfirth - Nuits Des Chartreux
Winner of three of his 7 starts. Looked to be travelling like the winner when unseating rider when leading two out on his novice chase bow at Chepstow (2m 7 1/2f) in October. Rated 143 over hurdles.
"He disappointed at Newbury but at the time he ran all of our horses ran very bad. We put it down to a bad batch of hay that put everything back a month to six weeks. I think we can write off that Newbury run and he is quite a big leggy backward horse that still hasn't filled into his frame. Whether we go easy on him this season and try and properly campaign him next season we will just wait and see how he is in the next few weeks."
BIG BAD JOHN
7 br g Vinnie Roe - Celtic Serenade
Winner of a bumper at Listowel (2m 4f) in June and unplaced in a novices' hurdle at Newbury (2m 4 1/2f) in November.
"He is a nice horse who won a bumper in Ireland and disappointed at Newbury when the horses we running bad. He will make a lovely novice chaser next year
9 b g Vinnie Roe - Polar Lamb
Winner of six of his 21 starts. Returned to winning form on his latest start in a handicap chase at Ffos Las (3m 1 1/2f) in December when beating Cloudy Copper 11 lengths off a mark of 133. Currently rated 144 over fences.
"He's in great form and obviously has to have extreme heavy conditions - that is when he is at his best. He won well at Ffos Las last time where everything was ideal for him there. It's a shame the Welsh National was called off but let's hope they can run it on Saturday. He is in great form, stays well and jumps well, and he should run well on that heavy ground."
7 b g Old Vic - Name For Fame
Winner of four of his 10 starts. Successful in novice hurdles last season at Stratford (2m 6f) and Chepstow (2m 3 1/2f) in April. Currently rated 133 over fences and hurdles.
"He is ready to go and is going Novice Chasing this year. He is ready to run now but whether we run him on this extreme ground is questionable as he likes it a bit better. He is entered at Huntingdon this week and if he didn't go there he could go for a novice chase on Welsh National day."
7 b g Definite Article - Magical Theatre
Winner of two of his 3 starts. Success in a novices' hurdle at Aintree (2m 4f) in November when beating Flying Angel a length and a quarter.
"He is a lovely horse and I think you will see the best of him when he's stepped up in trip to three miles. Whatever he does this year is a bonus as I think he's a proper chaser. I am sure we will have him out in the next couple of weeks and, hopefully, we can aim him for the Albert Bartlett or something like that if he proves he's good enough."
8 b g Presenting - Howaya Pet
Winner of two of his 11 starts. Best effort this season when third, beaten four and three quarter lengths, to Drop Out Joe in a handicap chase at Chepstow (2m 7 1/2f) in October off a mark of 132. Currently rated 134.
He ran first time out at Chepstow and hated the ground last time. I think there is a big handicap in him in the Spring on better ground. He stays all day and it would be nice if we could get him on a mark where he gets into the National."
6 b g Tikkanen - On A Mission
Winner of two of his 6 starts. Made a winning reappearance in a handicap chase at Ffos Lad (2m 3 1/2f) in October when beating Dolores Delightful three lengths off a mark of 115. Currently rated 120 over fences.
"He is a nice progressive horse and the ground has been way too soft for him last time. He won on softish ground at Ffos Las off a decent mark and I think you will see the best of him on decent ground."
IMAGINE THE CHAT
7 b g Kayf Tara - Be My Bird
Winner of three of his 7 starts. Scored by seven lengths from Sandy Beach in a handicap chase at Newbury (2m 6 1/2f) off his current mark of 115 at the end of December.
"He's a lovely horse and I think he could be very good if he keeps progressing. He won nicely at Newbury last time and I thought for a novice he jumped round there foot perfect really. He stays well and act on any ground so hopefully he will go onto better things. He won very well at Newbury and we will see that the handicapper does but we will look at the novice handicap at Cheltenham that Irish Cavalier won last year. He could run in the next few weeks and we will see what we do after that."
7 gr/ro g Aussie Rules - Tracker
Winner of six of his 17 starts. Unplaced in top company last two starts but scored by half a length from Henryville in an Intermediate Chase at Newton Abbot in October. Currently rated 154 over fences.
"He had it all to do in the King George VI Chase at Kempton and I kind of knew we were taking on that opposition but Kempton wouldn't have played to his strengths. He wants something like Cheltenham and where we go next I am not sure as ideally he is best on better ground. We will probably leave him until we get some good ground in the Spring."
6 ch g Flemensfirth - Cansalrun
No wins in two starts. Winner of a point-to-point in Ireland and beaten only a short head by Midnight Silver in a bumper at Ffos Las in March and fourth, beaten seven and three quarter lengths, to Crazy Jack at Worcester (2m 4f) in September.
"Unfortunately he got a bit of a knock at Worcester and we are trying to get him right. He should be out in the next couple of weeks and I see him more of a chaser of the future but I can seem him picking up a couple of novice hurdles on softer ground."
MINELLA ON LINE
7 b g King's Theatre - Bally Boshoi
Winner of one of his 16 starts. Finished third, beaten 20 lengths, to Local Show on his latest start in a novices handicap chase at Newbury (2m 7 1/2f) in December off a mark of 127. Currently rated 125 over fences.
"He ran at Plumpton on Sunday. He was quite disappointing last season and has been a bit of a monkey which is why we put the blinkers on him. "
8 b g King's Theatre - Blast Freeze
Winner of five of his 14 starts. Scored by ten lengths from Kafy Moss in a novices chase at Warwick (2m 4 1/2f) in May. Currently rated 132 over fences.
"He is back now and had a good break after his last win at Warwick. I am not quite sure what the plan is with him and we could go hunter chasing with him in the Spring but I'm not entirely sure."
7 b g Kayf Tara - Dark Diva
Dual winning point-to-pointer in Ireland and impressive victory in a bumper at Warwick on New Year's Eve.
"He is a very very good horse who won his bumper well at Warwick last week. He will go straight over hurdles now and, hopefully will be good enough to go for something like the Albert Bartlett. He jumps well and, hopefully, he will win his first two novice hurdles well and go on from there."
9 b g Oscar - Lisa's Storm
Winner of six of his 12 starts. Winner of the 2014 RSA Chase at Cheltenham (3m 1/2f) when beating Smad Place a neck. Returned to winning form when beating Sausolito Sunrise 15 lengths in a Graduation Chase at Newbury (2m 7 1/2f) in December. Currently rated 156 over fences.
"The main aim is hopefully going to be the Cheltenham Gold Cup if he keeps progressing. I was very impressed with him at Newbury considering he held up on that ground after being off for a long long time. He has come out of it in great form and I would hope there would be a lot more improvement to come from him. He did have an entry in the Welsh National but I wouldn't run him on that ground with all that weight. He will go for the Cotswold Chase now at the end of the month."
6 ch g Flemensfirth - Chantoue Royal
Places in his four bumpers and two hurdles. Rated 125 over hurdles.
"I thought he ran a good race at Cheltenham the other day. He is crying out for a step up in trip and will go three miles next time. Hopefully, he will win a couple of novice hurdles but he's going to be a lovely chaser next year."
7 b g Garuda - Jacks Sister
Winner of two of his 7 starts.Well beaten in Novice Chases at Bangor and Chepstow in October. Rated 130 over fences.
"Hopefully, he will run somewhere this weekend. He has been a little disappointing but he ran when the horses weren't firing and I would hope to see a lot better run from him next time."
RED DEVILS LAD
7 b g Beneficial - Welsh Sitara
Winner of four of his 14 starts. Runner-up, beaten five lengths, to Katkeau on his reappearance at Ludlow (3m) in December off a mark of 136. Currently rated 138 over fences.
"He will go for the Welsh National too. He loves the gruelling conditions and I thought he ran well last time on a track that was far too sharp for him and going right handed. I was very happy with his first run back."
THE ROMFORD PELE
9 b g Accordion - Back And Fore
Winner of six of his 24 starts. Successful three times over fences last season at Worcester, Uttoxeter and Cheltenham. Currently rated 146 over fences.
"His aim this year will probably be the National. He is on a nice mark and will get in and he run his best races on good ground. He ran on soft ground at Cheltenham last time and hated the ground. He will probably have one more run and go for the National."
7 b g Vinnie Roe - Bobby's Jet
Winner of two of his 10 starts. Scored by 29 lengths from Upswing in a Beginners' Chase at Worcester (2m 7f) in September. Currently rated 141 over fences.
"He is another that wants good ground and he hated the soft ground at Cheltenham last time. We might even go for the four miler at Cheltenham. He jumps well and that's probably the plan for him."
7 b g Scorpion - Pandalute
Winner of two of his 7 starts. Impressive 16 length victor from Captainofindustry at Ffos Las (2m 4f) in October off a mark of 108. Currently rated 118 over fences and 120 over hurdles.
"He ran well at Taunton and probably wants a bit further than that. He wasn't in love with that heavy ground and the sharp track but he jumped well. He is on a fair mark over fences and will hopefully progress from there."
AT FISHERS CROSS - fragile but talented staying hurdler who looks capable of further success this Spring.
BEAST OF BURDEN - hasn't come up to scratch in two efforts over fences but could soon be putting that behind him.
BOB FORD - at his best when the mud is flying and can win more races.
IMAGINE THE CHAT - good winner at Newbury in December and plenty more to come.
MYSTICAL KNIGHT - highly impressive winner of his bumper and could prove a world beater over hurdles.
O'FAOLAINS BOY - back to form last time and hopefully onwards and upwards with this tough gelding.