TOP trainer Eddie Harty is backing Captain Cee Bee to justify his favouritism in his bid for Arkle glory at Cheltenham this afternoon.
Harty tasted Festival success with Cee Bee two years ago when the horse romped home in the Supreme Novices’ Chase.
He sat out the whole of last season with injury, but has since rediscovered his best form, winning twice so far this season.
Indeed, his one glitch saw him fall at the last in a Grade One Novice chase at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, allowing his Arkle rival Sizing Europe to romp home.
Fourteen-time Champion Jockey Tony McCoy gets the mount after being claimed by owner JP McManus, and Harty insists everything is clicking into place.
“Everything is fine, the horse is in great form and we are all set for tomorrow now,” said Harty on his pre-race favourite. The weather has gone right for him and the ground looks perfect, you can’t ask for better than that. It should be just perfect, good jumping ground.
“He got here on Saturday, he travelled well and looks like he is looking forward to it – he’s well-keyed up for it.”
As a result of his Boxing Day success at the expense of his Irish rival, Sizing Europe arrives at Cheltenham with a four-race unbeaten record over the jumps and trainer Henry de Bromhead is confident of another strong run. “It looks a really good and competitive race,” de Bromhead said. “The ground is absolutely lovely, they’ve done a great job on it.”
Danger, however, lurks in the form of Somersby, who has been wrapped up in cotton wool by Henrietta Knight since landing the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown in December. “He’s done everything right at home since Sandown, we’ve got no complaints,” Knight said. “He’s very well, so we just keep our fingers crossed.”