CHARLIE Longsdon reports Pendra to be in good form as his stable stalwart bids to go one better than last year at next week’s Cheltenham Festival – and provide the Chipping Norton trainer with a first winner at the meeting.

Longsdon suffered Festival heartbreak 12 months ago, when the ten-year-old jumped the last fence three lengths clear in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase only to be collared by Domesday Book.

Pendra could have another crack at the three-and-a-quarter-mile contest next Thursday, for which he is a 16-1 chance, or tackle the Ultima Handicap Chase – a race he finished fifth in three years ago – two days earlier, where he is a 25-1 shot.

The chestnut gelding, who was also third to Present View in the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase at the 2014 meeting, will be running for the first time since his gallant second 12 months ago, having been a late withdrawal from last year’s Randox Health Grand National due to a leg injury.

However, he arrived at the Festival last March on the back of similar preparation, having not been on a racecourse since finishing unplaced in the 2016 Grand National.

Longsdon said: “He doesn’t race much – only once or twice a year and this will be his fifth run at the Festival. Arguably, he should have won twice at the Festival already.

“He came to me late last year, because he had a slight leg problem in April, but he’s in good form now and could have run earlier this month.

“While there is no plan for which race he will go for, he was second in the Kim Muir last year, so he could head back there as he is on the same handicap mark.”

Stablemate Ballydine holds the same two entries as Pendra, but Longsdon reported that the Festival may come too soon for his recent Sandown winner.

The trainer said: “He won nicely on his third start back over fences at Sandown, and I think the handicapper might have given him a chance.

“He’s had quite a few soundness issues and he had two years off after his novice hurdling career, so he isn’t the easiest to train and he hasn’t been quite right since Sandown.

“We are in a race against time to make the Festival, but if we have to miss Cheltenham, there are plenty of other races he could go for,” he said.

Longsdon has seven other horses entered, including Bentelimar.

However, he feels the nine-year-old may struggle to make the cut for any of the three handicaps he holds engagements in, and may have to wait for Kempton on the Saturday after Cheltenham.“He could be the best handicapped horse of ours and he is crying out for better ground,” he added.