Gordon Elliott expects to have at least 50 runners - his biggest team - at the Cheltenham Festival next month as he attempts to defend the leading trainers' title he has won for the last two seasons.

He has saddled 22 winners at the festival, 14 of those being achieved in the last two years, underlining the enormous strides he has made since Chicago Grey gave him his first festival victory in the 2011 National Hunt Chase.

Cheltenham means the world to Elliott, who is closing in on his 41st birthday, and, although he says it will be hard to beat his tally of eight winners last year, he believes his 2019 team is high on quality as well as numbers.

"We have a really nice team of horses going to the festival," he said ahead of this year's edition which begins on Tuesday 12 March.

"Most of them have their serious work done and we’ll just be keeping them ticking over for the next couple of weeks.

"Cheltenham is the meeting where all trainers want to do well. You can train plenty of winners at Aintree or Punchestown, but it’s how you do at the Cheltenham Festival that people remember. 

"We’ve been very lucky there in recent years. It’s very hard to see us bettering last year's score, but we'll be going there with plenty of chances. We'll have a better idea of how many we'll run when the handicaps are published, but I'd imagine it'll be in the region of 50."