Barry Connell has yet to train a Cheltenham winner, however, the Dublin-born former amateur jockey believes that he knows the formula for Festival success.
As an owner, Connell enjoyed Festival success with the Mag Mullins-trained Martello Tower in the Albert Bartlett in 2015, while Pedrobob was prepared by Tony Mullins to win the County Hurdle in 2007.
Now training his own runners from his state-of-the-art training facility in Nurney, County Kildare, the novice handler has made a major impact in a short period of time.
Grade One winner Marine Nationale is first up for the stockbroker-turned trainer, and his charge races in the opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, going out as one of the favourites.
Then Good Land, another Grade One winner, is also well regarded for Wednesday’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
"For a small operation like ours to have a Grade One winner is unbelievable," said Connell, speaking to RTE Sport.
"He (Marine Nationale) is a good ground horse, he is a Flat-bred horse and he is a different profile to Good Land. And we think he is as good as he has ever been.
Connell’s confidence is high going into the Festival based on what he's seen on the gallops.
"We were lucky enough in the last couple of days to get the final serious piece of work into both of these guys at Fairyhouse, and it couldn’t have gone better," said Connell.
"They are going there in the form of their lives and I think we have the best horse in both races.
"They are both Grade One winners, so we are not going over there with a maiden chancing our arm, and we know that they can do it at the highest level.
"There is a huge buzz around the yard with the two Grade One horses going there with leading chances, that’s the icing on the cake."
Connell feels his runners possess traits that should enhance their chances this week.
"There are four things you need to have a successful horse for Cheltenham, and the first is obviously ability, speed," Connell opined. "It’s a tight undulating track and you need speed to be able to hold your position.
"You need to be able to jump accurately. You need temperament, which these two guys have, so that you don’t boil over and lose your race beforehand or during the race.
"And then you need stamina, and guts when you come off the bridle, and I think these two guys have all four of those in spades."
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