REBECCA CURTIS has every reason to fell optimistic about her chances of recording another Festival victory this week as, bar last year, he previous four visits had yielded success.
Teaforthree was a first winner in 2012 National Hunt Chase and victories for At Fishers Cross in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle in 2013, O'Failains Boy in the Grade 1 RSA Chase in 2014 and Irish Cavalier in 2015 confirm that her raiding party is worth more than a second look.
Her best prospect of a win this time around could rest with Bigbadjohn in the National Hunt Chase on the opening day after a sterling effort when landing the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot last month and he is likely to be backed by the progressive Geordie Des Champs, Irish Cavalier, Potters Cross, Relentess Dream and The Romford Pele.
After highly productive Autumn, Rebecca's team of mainly good ground horses have struggled a little through the depths of winter but she is hoping the Spring ground will help bring the best out of a talented team.
Rebecca said: "We had a really good start to the season and let's hope we can finish off as we started. The horses are in great form now and we have plenty to run during the remainder of the campaign."
On the eve of the Cheltenham Festival, Rebecca kindly spoke to Tony Elves of ATR about those she hopes can find their top form at the highlight of the jumps seasons.
6 b g Flemensfirth - Crystal Ballerina
Placed in bumpers at Chepstow in December and Newbury in January
"He is a big chasing type and ran well when finishing second in bumpers at Chepstow and when third at Newbury. If you look at the form everything around him has either won or run well and his form looks rock solid. It's late in the season and we may put him away now and go novice hurdling next year."
8 b g Old Vic - North Star Poly
118 rated chaser. Probably best effort this season when third, beaten 14 ½ lengths, to Ballyboker Breeze off a mark of 127 in a handicap chase at Bangor (3m) in December.
"He has been slightly disappointing but he has come down the rating now and hopefully he might win one of those staying handicap chases. He probably wants better ground and you could see him to better effect in the Spring."
7 gr g Martaline - Ombrelli
137 rated chaser. Placed in four of his five starts this season including when beaten only three quarters of a length to Belami Des Pictons in a novices' handicap chase at Newbury (2m 6 1/2f) on New Years Eve off a mark of 132.
"He has been in fairly good form all Winter and not many horses at all ran their races when he was pulled up in very heavy ground at Hereford. We have freshened him up and he has worked very well since and the plan is to go for either the four-miler or the RSA at Cheltenham."
8 br g Vinnie Roe - Celtic Serenade
144 rated chaser. Gained his most important success on his latest start in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices' Chase at Ascot (3m) in February when beating Flintham a short head.
"He ran a cracking race at Ascot three weeks ago and is very strong stayer who jumps well. He ideally wants better ground and it was a bit soft for him the other day. The plan is to go for the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham and Barry O'Neill will ride him."
8 b g Definite Article - Magical Theatre
129 rated chaser. Beat stablemate Aurillac a neck on his reappearance in a novice chase at Chepstow (2m 7 1/2f) in October. Has failed to complete in three subsequent starts.
"He started the season out very well and his last couple of run when he was pulled up were on bad ground. We are just freshening him up and we will get him out in a novice handicap chase in the Spring."
5 b g Oscar - Minnie Turbo
Winner of a point-to-point in Ireland
"He is a nice horse by Oscar who won his point in Ireland. He was a bit on the weak side so we gave him an easy Winter but we will get out in the Spring for a bumper for which we would be hopeful."
GEORDIE DES CHAMPS
6 br g Robin Des Champs - Kilcoleman Lady
135 rated hurdler. Winner of his first three races over hurdle this season and completed the hat trick with a three quarter length defeat of Wylde Magic at Chepstow (2m 3 1/2f) in December. Finished runner-up, beaten two and three quarter lengths, to Theligny in a valuable handicap hurdle at Newbury (2m 4 1/2f) on New Years Day off a mark of 129.
"He is a good ground horse and he had three good wins on nice ground. He finished second in a good handicap at Newbury and the last day at Warwick the ground was very soft which he hated. We have freshened him up and he is in the Martin Pipe but it looks doubtful he will get in. We will try and find a nice novices' handicap in the Spring for him."
GO FOR BROKE
7 b g Gold Well - Kokopelli Star
122 rated hurdler. Finished runner-up, beaten 14 lengths, to Potters Story in a novice handicap hurdle at Ffos Las (2m) in February off his current mark.
"Again, he is a nice horse who wants good ground. He finished second on bad ground at Ffos Las last time and I think there is a nice handicap in him one day. You won't see the best of him until the late Spring."
5 b g Gold Well - Wednesday Girl
Better effort in bumpers when third on debut at Chepstow in October.
"He ran well on his debut at Chepstow and he is a nice novice for next year. We ran him at Ascot but he didn't really like the soft ground and ran a bit disappointing there but he's been freshened up now and will run in another bumper in the Spring and will hopefully win one."
6 br g Oscar - Maiden Flight
Runner-up in a bumper at Chepstow in February.
"He is a lovely horse and he ran well the other day and just bumped into a very good horse of Jonjo O'Neill's. We will probably get him out in the next few weeks in a bumper and better ground and it is too late in the season to be sending him novice hurdling."
8 ro g Aussie Rules - Tracker
156 rated chaser. Gained his most prestigious success when beating Menorah three quarters of a length in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby (3m) in October.
"He has obviously been a brilliant servant and he won the Charlie Hall at Wetherby in the Autumn but he hasn't had his ground since. He is a proper good ground horse. He ran well enough again at Ascot the other day but it was on soft ground and the plan is to go to the Festival and hopefully it's not too soft there. He is in the Gold Cup and the Ryanair and the two and a half mile handicap."
8 b g Presenting - Luck of The Deise
130 rated hurdler. Finished second, beaten a length, to Forthefunofit in a novice handicap hurdle at Ascot (2m 7 1/2f) in February off a mark of 125.
"He is a really nice novice chaser for next year and ran a nice race in a handicap at Ascot a few weeks ago. We will probably find a nice novice handicap hurdle and he could run in the three miler at Aintree."
5 b g Fuisse - Fille Du Bresil
Respectable effort in three novice hurdles this season and finished third, beaten 17 lengths, to Beyond Conceit at Newbury (2m 1/2f) in January.
""He was still a bit weak when coming from France but he has won a few nice races. We put him away fairly early to give him a break and we will crack away next season with him. He will probably go Novice Chasing."
JUST A THOUGHT
5 ch m Stowaway - Carry Lucy
Winner of bumpers at Ffos Las in November and Hereford in December and respectable third, beaten six and a half lengths, to Cap Soleil in a listed mares bumper at Sandown on Saturday.
"She won her first two bumpers in good style and we were very pleased with her performance when we stepped up in class at Sandown on Saturday. We will see how she come out of the race and she may run at Aintree but it wouldn't bother us if we put her away and go novice hurdling next season."
7 ch g Flemensfirth - Cansalrun
109 rated chaser. Finished fourth, beaten 11 lengths, to Behind The Wire in a novices' handicap Chase at Newbury (2m 6 12/f) last Saturday off current mark.
"He ran ok at Newbury last Saturday and won the time before at Bangor. He is just a staying handicap chaser and hopefully will find another race before the end of the season."
8 b g Kayf Tara - Dark Diva
136 rated chaser. Finished third, beaten ten lengths, to Rock The Kasbah in a novices' chase at Chepstow (2m 7 1/2f) in February.
"He started the season very well when winning at Hereford but the ground has been very soft in his last two starts. He has an entry in the Irish National and we may look at that."
10 b g Oscar - Lisa's Groom
139 rated chaser. Pulled up both starts this season at Ascot (3m) in February off a mark of 148 and at Newbury (3m 2f) last weekend off a mark off 143.
"He has come back from injury and you wonder if he retains the same ability. It was horrible sticky ground when he last run and he wore a tongue strap and you wonder. We are going to get his wind done and take the tongue tie off for the National and see what happens."
5 b g Policy Maker - Mia Lescribaa
Winner of a point-to-point in Ireland.
"He is a nice horse that won his four-year-old point-to-point in Ireland well and he will improve for a Summer's grass but he could run in a bumper at Chepstow on Monday. He should go well."
7 b g Alfora - Teeno Nell
139 rated chaser. Pulled up in the Listed Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster (3m) in January but had previously scored by two lengths from Treaty Girl in a similar event at Newbury (3m 2f) in January off a mark of 132.
"He has done well for us this season and he is going to go for the Kim Muir now at the Festival where Barry O'Neill will ride. Again, he is a proper good ground horse."
8 b g Garuda - Jacks Sister
125 rated chaser. Disappointing in five starts this season and has slipped from rating of 136 to current mark.
"He has been disappointing this season but has dropped down the handicap as a result and, hopefully, will win a nice three mile handicap at some point."
8 br g Kayf Tara - Full Of Elegance
138 rated chaser. Winner three times this season and gained his last success in a novices handicap chase at Taunton (2m 7f) in November when beating Minellacelebration 11 lengths off a mark of 128.
"He started the season very very well and he wasn't so good at Cheltenham last time but I think he was ridden a bit too aggressively there. He will go for the Novices' Handicap on the first day of the Festival. He is another who wants good ground."
7 b g Shantou - Carrigmorna Flyer
156 rated chaser. Finished second, beaten 15 lengths, to Cue Card in the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase at Ascot (2m 5f) in February.
"He is a horse I have been very impressed with and we are going to give him a real shot at the Grand National. I think he is tailormade for it and the furthest he's been this year is two mile five and he is crying out for three miles plus."
THE ROMFORD PELE
10 b g Accordion - Back And Fore
144 rated chaser and 149 rated hurdler. Pulled up in last two starts behind Younowhatimeanharry in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham (3m) in January and the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury (3m) in November. Last win in a handicap hurdle at Newton Abbot (3m 2f) in October when beating Young Dillon two and a half lengths off a mark of 144.
"He had a good Autumn and won a handicap hurdle at Newton Abbot and ran well in a graded race. He is another good ground horse and has run on soft ground which is not ideal for him. He is in great form and he will now go for the Coral Cup at Cheltenham."
7 ch g Mahler - Mary's Fun
125 rated chaser. Last win in a novices' handicap chase at Bangor (2m 4 1/2f) in January when beating On The Road a length off a mark of 114.
"He started his novice chasing well and won at Bangor and then unfortunately fell at Hereford next time. He should be back out in the next six week and hopefully can build on his earlier success."
8 b g Vinnie Roe - Bobby's Jet
136 rated chaser. Scored his last victory in a listed handicap chase at Market Rasen (2m 5 1/2f) in September when beating Presenting Arms two lengths off a mark of 129.
"He is a proper good ground horse and he has run in some good race where the ground wasn't ideal for him this year. He ran over the National fences at Aintree and the Paddy Power both on soft ground but before then he won a valuable handicap at Market Rasen. His main aim now is to go for the Topham at Aintree this year and he may get a run into him before."
BIGBADJOHN - showed courage in abundance when landing the Reynoldstown at Ascot and those qualities should stand him in good stead in the National Hunt Chase.
GEORDIE DES CHAMPS - winning run temporarily halted but too good not to add to his score before the season's end.
HIDDEN IMPACT - solid first effort in a bumper and can go one better shortly.
JOE FARRELL - possibly heads to Aintree and can win a staying handicap hurdle in the near future.
POTTERS CROSS - didn't run to his best at Doncaster last time but should not be written off on that effort.
SHANTOU FLYER - classy individual who can also have his big day before the season's end.