MALCOLM Jefferson’s Attaglance bids to become a dual Cheltenham Festival winner tomorrow.
Two years after landing the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle under Harry Haynes who is now plying his trade in America, the eight-year-old is a leading contender for the novice handicap chase that concludes day one of the Festival.
Though the battle-hardened Attaglance has not won since pulling off the Cheltenham and Aintree double in 2012, his fourth place in last November’s Paddy Power Gold Cup gives grounds for optimism.
“He should have a good chance if he runs to his Paddy Power form,” said Malton-based Jefferson whose stable jockey Brian Hughes is enjoying a career-best season. “He’s in good nick and seems to thrive in the Spring – the ground is key for him, as long as it keeps drying.”
Jefferson hopes to run Firth Of The Clyde in Thursday’s Byrne Plate while Urban Hymn holds solid claims in Friday’s Grade One Albert Bartlett Hurdle.
He narrowly beat Sue Smith’s highly-regarded Blakemount, a potential rival, at Doncaster in testing conditions at the end of January and Jefferson observed: “He’s in great order. I think he will be better on better ground.”
As for his fellow Malton trainer Brian Ellison, he wants the ground to dry out so Viva Colonia – second to Smith’s Grand National contender Mr Moonshine at Musselburgh – can do himself justice in Friday’s concluding Grand Annual Chase.
He also saddles Yesyoucan in Wednesday’s Coral Cup, with Wayne Hutchinson in the saddle. Ellison’s Bothy has twice come close to winning this handicap hurdle and the trainer has two wishes in life – to win the Northumberland Plate and saddle a Cheltenham Festival winner.
“Yesyoucan, I haven’t had him this good in a long time. When he won at Wetherby in January, he wasn’t right. But you need a lot of luck at Cheltenham,” he said.