Top trainers David Pipe and Kim Bailey have revealed their best chances of a winner at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.
The pair gave updates on their runners at a virtual press conference to discuss the handicap weights at the four-day meeting, which takes place from March 16-19.
Nicholashayne handler Pipe has nominated Adagio as his leading hope for the week.
A 12-1 shot with Paddy Power for the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle on March 19, the four-year-old already has a success at the highest level to his name.
“My best chance is probably in the toughest race with Adagio,” said Pipe, who has had 14 winners at the high class fixture.
“It looks an ultra-competitive Triumph Hurdle, but our fella hasn’t done a lot wrong and he’s improving with every run.
“After his last run he did have a bit of colic, which meant he missed a week, but he’s had a good preparation since. He’s in great form, but it does look a red hot Triumph this year.
“Obviously it’s always a concern at the time, but since then everything has gone well and he’ll have an away day somewhere before Cheltenham.
“We’re very much looking forward to it and the great thing for me about Adagio is that I don’t think it really matters what the ground is.
“He’s got Cheltenham form, he jumps, he travels and we’ll find out if he’s good enough at The Festival.”
Kim Bailey put a selection of his horses through a schooling session on Wednesday morning.
He believes Imperial Aura, priced at 13-2 with Paddy Power for the Ryanair Chase, is his best candidate for top honours.
“We’ve done extensive schooling with him and he didn’t fall at Kempton (on January 9) – it’s the one thing I get rather bored of people saying,” said Bailey, part of a small group of trainers to have won the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup, Unibet Champion Hurdle and Randox Grand National.
“He unseated David (Bass) and the horse is a good jumper.
“Something took his eye off the fence – I’m convinced that’s what happened and I’m very thankful it happened there and not at Cheltenham.
“He has worked well this morning and I’m delighted with how he’s progressing.
“We didn’t go to Ascot the other day (for another race) and we’re hopefully going to Cheltenham with a fresh horse.
“It’s a very competitive race, as they all are, but we go there with a very strong chance.”