TRAINER Dr Richard Newland is hoping his Claines yard can spring back into life at just the right time to taste success at this week’s Cheltenham Festival.
Despite already having had their best season in terms of prize money, Newland, who is set to have five runners in action, admits their form has dropped off a little of late.
However, he feels his horses have the ability to provide plenty of cheer for Worcestershire backers at Prestbury Park.
Newland said: “We’ve had a very good season – our best prize money-wise – with 29 winners over the jumps and a couple on the flat.
“But we’ve just hit a quiet patch over the last couple of months, which has been frustrating.
“The horses have been well prepared, but we couldn’t say we are going into the Festival in our very best form – we need something to turn and I’m hoping it is about to. We will certainly be flying under the radar!
“The horses have been prepared for weeks for the Festival, so you just don’t want anything to go wrong now.
“The weather hasn’t hampered us at all in terms of using our gallops facility and giving the horses the work they need, which is good.
“In the past, when we had the very cold winter, that made things difficult with the hard ground.
“This year the weather hasn’t held us up, but it hasn’t helped with having all of the fields completely waterlogged.
“The going is drying out and we are on schedule for it to be good to soft, it could even be good ground. That would suit us. I am not looking for a muddy field for them to run through.”
Newland says tomorrow’s feature race, the Champion Hurdle, will be an exciting contest, while he is tipping an outsider to land the week’s biggest prize, the Gold Cup.
He said: “You tend to get preoccupied with your own horses. However, I have been a big Festival fan for many years and I’ll be watching all the racing with interest.
“Once you start training your own horses you become very focused on those, but I’m looking forward to it and the Champion Hurdle is a great race this year.
“Maybe The New One can do it, but I don’t have any strong fancies beyond that.
“The World Hurdle will be interesting with Big Bucks back.
“In the Gold Cup, you’d have to say Bobs Worth is the one to beat, but I wouldn’t be totally surprised if an outsider was to win it this year.
“We will be targeting the handicaps, where we have more realistic chances, and hopefully we can get somewhere near the line.”
For Newland, Ahyaknowyerself will be in the Novices’ Handicap Chase and Changing The Guard in the Grand Annual.
Pineau De Re goes in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle, Night Alliance in the Kim Muir Chase and Act Of Kalanisi in the Byrne Group Plate.