James Ewart has high hopes for Festival pair

UP-AND-COMING Scottish jumps trainer James Ewart is set to have his first ever runners at the Cheltenham Festival later this month when he saddles Aikman and Captain Americo.

The 33-year-old Dumfriesshire trainer has held a licence for seven years and this is the first season he feels he has any horses good enough to take their chance.

Aikman, who has a choice of five entries, booked his place with a surprise win over Minella Class in the Sidney Banks Memorial Novices' Hurdle at Huntingdon last week.

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Captain Americo is on course for the four-mile National Hunt Chase following a win at Newcastle in January and a third position behind Wayward Prince at Wetherby recently.

"Aikman has come out of the race very well and I think he now will have the opportunity to go to Cheltenham," said Ewart, whose yard is based at The Craig, near Langholm.

"He has five entries and the only one he definitely won't run in is the Supreme. I would prefer not run in the two handicaps he's in even though he's now as short as 16-1 for the Coral. He's in the Martin Pipe Handicap as well, but probably his choices will be the Neptune or the Albert Bartlett. Captain Americo goes for the National Hunt Chase and is in tip-top form. He was ridden out this morning and is as good as ever.

"Cheltenham is a very special place and you only go there when you believe you have something you have a chance with. I've been training for seven years and we've never had a runner at the Festival. This year we will have two. We are only going there with Aikman and Captain Americo because they truly represent the best chances we've ever have had of a runner with potential to be placed or even possibly win a race."

Meanwhile, Jessies Dream and Chicago Grey are among those being geared up for Cheltenham as Gordon Elliott assembles his team for the Festival.

Elliott, who is building-up a raiding party of about six for the big meeting, reported Jessies Dream to have come through his latest workout with flying colours on Monday.

"He worked well and is in good form. He's going for the RSA," said the County Meath trainer.

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