Charlie Longsdon has a spring in his step as he makes his way to the side of the gallops to watch his string in action.
The Chipping Norton trainer goes into the Cheltenham Festival tomorrow on the back of his best season to date.
A treble at Market Rasen yesterday courtesy of Kilcooley, No No Mac and Orange Nassau took his tally for the campaign to an impressive 72 winners – passing his previous best of 69 set two years ago.
“It’s been a great season,” says the 38-year-old handler. “We’ve beaten our best number of winners and hopefully we can improve on that.”
Now Longsdon’s set to saddle his biggest team yet at the Festival as he bids to add to that tally with a first winner at the prestigious fixture.
Five of his possible ten runners at the meeting – Germany Calling, Up To Something, Shantou Magic, Cadoudoff and Killala Quay – are among the second lot who sweep up the five-furlong gallop in two canters as a brisk wind whips across the gallops.
Back in the yard at his Hull Farm Stables, Pendra, whom Longsdon has always held in the highest regard, is on the horse walker.
The trainer takes the six-year-old out and leads him back to his stable.
When asked which of his runners he sees as his best chance, Longsdon has little hesitation in nominating the chestnut gelding, who runs in the Racing4Rewards Novices' Handicap Chase tomorrow.
“Pendra is the obvious horse because he is the one we are all talking about, but whether he is good enough is another matter,” he says.
“He is inexperienced and could be on a very good handicap mark, but it is not as simple as that.”
Longsdon could be triple-handed in the race with Up To Something and Grandads Horse both holding entries at the head of the handicap.
Germany Calling (left), an entry in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tomorrow, tracks Whispering Bob up the gallops
Germany Calling, a big outsider, will be his opening shot in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the traditional curtain-raiser.
Moving on to Wednesday, the trainer can see Killala Quay “running into a place” in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, while he believes Cadoudoff has a “squeak” of doing similar in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
Longsdon says Magnifique Etoile will find it “very tough” in the Coral Cup, but he feels Our Kaempfer boasts solid English form and is a “big price at 33-1” in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
His team is completed by Shantou Magic, who is expected to “run well” in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle on Friday when he is set to be accompanied by Hazy Tom.