By Tom Peacock
Lizzie Kelly feels Esprit De Somoza could be the right candidate to end her unfinished business with the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle on March 14.
The rider missed out on a first Cheltenham Festival winner last year when picking eventual fifth Diable De Sivola from the Nick Williams yard, while Richard Johnson took the spoils on stablemate Flying Tiger.
Her mount has landed the Chatteris Fen Juvenile Hurdle at Huntingdon from three attempts in Britain and his odds range between 14-1 and a best-priced 25-1 with Bet Victor.
[(full)Watch Replay](//) Watch the closing stages of the Chatteris Fen at Huntingdon
“I’d gone into the race aware of Flying Tiger’s talents, but I felt he would either win or flop and was prepared to take the risk and ride something I knew was consistent,” Kelly told Racing UK’s Luck On Sunday programme.
“It was very difficult to swallow but I was riding for an owner who has been very supportive of me.
“I’m riding Esprit De Somoza, who I think is possibly one of the nicest horses I’ve sat on in terms of being a young horse and knowing his job.
“That run at Sandown (fifth behind Sussex Ranger) was amazing, I ride loads of horses first time out and that was quite incredible.
"The day at Huntingdon showed the improvement had come and I was very pleased with the run at Taunton the last day.
"He hadn’t had an easy run at the race and I think he’ll just keep improving. He needs to improve to win the Fred Winter, which I think he’s going for, but I think everything is in his favour.”
Kelly also has a shot at retribution in the Timico Gold Cup aboard Tea For Two, who unshipped her at the second fence last year before going on to Grade One gold at Aintree. This season, he was third in the King George but was eventually pulled-up last time in the Cotswold Chase.
“He’s great,” she said.Tea For Two's Bowl win was a second Grade One win for Lizzie Kelly (Racingfotos)
“We were very pleased with how he ran at Cheltenham. He took to the course, which was a bit of an issue which kept being brought up all the time, he jumped and travelled better than he has done in a long time, he just hates soft ground.
“The fact fences come quite thick and fast, you’re always on the turn, it suited him. He’s had some amazing days in the past and has basically changed my career.
“For us to be there and have a second bash at what what was an awful day last year is a privilege to perhaps right that wrong.”
Another likely candidate for Kelly is Coo Star Sivola, who is almost disputing favouritism for the Ultima Handicap Chase and the subject of many whispers on the Cheltenham preview night circuit.
She said of the recent easy Exeter winner: “He has run some really good races at Cheltenham over two and a half, and we stepped him up to three miles at Exeter.
"I was really happy with him. If you’re always making it you have a very nice run of the race, but I sat behind and he had to be a bit clever at points. I was always having to take a hold of him and not go mad, it was a nice easy run as a prep run for the Festival.
“Over three miles he actually felt like he had a turn of foot, which isn’t him usually. That puts us bang on. I’m not surprised lots of people are talking about him because I think he’s set now and ready to go.”
Select any odd to add a bet