TWO North Yorkshire runners could be flying under the Cheltenham Festival radar, according to their trainer Brian Ellison.
The Norton handler is sending Yesyoucan and Viva Colonia to this week’s showpiece National Hunt meeting and believes both could surprise the bookmakers.
Yesyoucan is entered in the Coral Cup – a race Spring Cottage Stables-based Ellison came a fraction away from winning three years ago with Bothy – while Viva Colonia will go for the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase.
Both are big prices, Yesyoucan a 33-1 shot and Viva Colonia priced at 25-1, but Ellison believes they can belie their odds and put in big displays.
“He’s a really good horse,” said Ellison of Yesyoucan. “We have put him over fences this year and he’s won two races.
“He probably doesn’t jump well enough to go to Cheltenham over fences so we have entered him in the Coral Cup back over hurdles.
“At the moment, I would say he is in really good form. I think he will run well. I think he’ll enjoy going back over hurdles. He’s in good fettle.”
Viva Colonia, meanwhile, will need the rain to stay away from Prestbury Park if he is to perform to his best.
“We went there last year and a horse fell in front of him, which knocked him out of the race,” Ellison added of the nine-year-old’s performance in the Johnny Henderson 12 months ago when he was pulled up.
“Then he went to Aintree and finished fifth in a good competitive race (Grade 3 Red Rum Chase). His profile shows that big races suit him.
“He had a great run last time at Musselburgh, even though the ground was a little too much on the soft side for him. He has just been waiting for this ground so we hope it stays fine.”
Ellison has also entered Phase Shift and Streets Of New York but says neither will run at the Festival. It’s a sparse selection for a trainer who has taken bigger numbers south in previous years.
He explained: “We have got some really good young horses. I think Five In A Row is a really good horse, but these are horses for next year.
“The likes of Viva and Yesyoucan are proper handicap horses and they can go there now.”