Trainer Nick Mitchell is looking to bounce back into the training scene with a bang this season and there would be no better way then landing a winner at the Cheltenham festival and his horse Lieutenant Rocco looks to have a huge chance.
He made his debut in November at Chepstow over two miles and he finished third in a weak event but, next time out he was stepped up in trip and performed to a better standard.
He finished second of four at Cheltenham behind Fussil Raffles in a Novices' Chase over 2m4f and at one stage looked like winning the event.
The six year old then went to Wincanton in the rescheduled Grade Two Dipper Novices Chase and although finishing last of the three runners, was not too far behind Messire Des Obeaux and Protektorat who are both nice horses.
Last time out the gelding was dropped into his first handicap event at Ffos Las on heavy ground and was an emphatic eight lengths winner.
He showed his true potential that day and looks to be a very exciting novice for the yard, but that performance has given the trained food for thought as to what race he will be entered into at the festival.
Lieutenant Rocco is entered in the Ultima Handicap Chase, for which he is towards the top of the market, as well as the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase and the Marsh Novices’ Chase, but it now looks as though the Ultima will be the place he ends up.
(Credit ATR) Mitchell said: “We’re leaning towards the Ultima, but he’s going to be confirmed for that and the Brown Advisory. We’ll be taking him out of the Marsh.
“It will depend on the weather, as much as anything – that goes for any sort of participation at Cheltenham, to be honest. There’s rain forecast every day until next Tuesday, so we’ll just have to see what comes. For him, the more the better really.
“We’ll also wait and see who gets there.
“Fingers crossed, everything has gone smoothly. He had his final tough bit of work (on Tuesday morning), which went very well, and Daryl Jacob will be coming down to school him on Friday.
“I’ve been ticking off every day for six weeks now. All we want is to get there and then let him do what he can do.”