Ferdy Murphy is keeping his fingers crossed for a dry spell of weather as he prepares Divers for a return to the scene of his greatest triumph.
The nine-year-old won the Centenary Novices' Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2011 and returned to the track to finish a creditable fourth in the Byrne Group Plate last term. That two-mile-five-furlong heat is his target once again this term.
Divers' preparation has been far from ideal, with heavy ground limiting him to just three starts all winter, but Murphy was satisfied with his recent third at Musselburgh on good ground and believes he could be on handy mark of 135, some 7lb lower than last year.
The Yorkshire handler said: "The Byrne Group Plate is the target for him and hopefully we'll get a bit of decent ground. It's been a terrible winter and the owners were happy to wait for decent ground and prepare him for the Festival.
"We gave him a run at Musselburgh, which helped, and he seems to be in good form. He has dropped down the weights a little, but he's on a nice mark now - an attractive mark, I would say - and he should get in the race off that."
De Boitron is also entered in the Grade Three heat, but a largely indifferent campaign has seen him drop to a rating of 130 and Murphy may instead direct him to the three-mile JLT Specialty Chase.
"De Boitron might not get in the Byrne Group Plate but he's entered in the JLT race, too. We will look at the options nearer the time, but it may be the JLT for him," he said.
"Riguez Dancer is entered in the JLT, but I think the Kim Muir is the race for him. He's dropped down the weights a bit, but he wants better ground. Nico de Boinville rode him last time and got on well with him, but I'd think he will be required elsewhere, so we'll probably bring an Irish amateur over for the ride.
"Poker De Sivola is very well and fresh (ahead of the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase). He finished sixth in the race a couple of years ago, but we were using that as a prep for something else to sweeten him up.
"We had been looking to the Grand National with him but he won't get in this year, so this is the target. The plan is the cross-country race and then we'll put him away for the year and work towards the Becher in November and then, hopefully, the National. He's a classy horse."
1 September 2015Cadeaux leads Cup contenders
Turner calls time on riding career
Pendleton so close to dream success
Whitman lifts Trophy for Johnston
Hobbs stars in Kempton entry
Mullins hails 'legend' Hurricane
Super Fly bows out
Belardo has six appeal - Varian
Time called on Telescope career
Charline chasing Curragh cash
31 August 2015Haydock option for 'Frankel' winner
Hurricane Fly: Best moments
Maguire making good progress
Channon seeks Divine intervention
More injury woe for unlucky Russell
Balios finished for the year
Reason back in firing Line
Newton Abbot washed away
Beloved bounds to Supreme success
Ton-up for De Sousa
Approval for new Yarmouth track
Hint takes Cambridgeshire glory
Bocca back in business
Leger hope Sumbal beaten in France
Tower-ing performance from Williams
O'Brien works his Magic again
All eyes on Pendleton at Ripon
30 August 2015Beloved rules supreme at Goodwood
Arm injury woe for Russell
Beacon shines for O'Brien
Botti banks on Binzart
Harrington ponders Jack reverse
Tullius revved up for Joel Stakes
Speculative in frame for Ayr raid
Moon dazzling for Irish Leger bid
Ivory backs Twin to peak at Donny
Golantilla 'a natural' over fences
Flintshire strikes at Saratoga
Retirement considered for Pharoah
Cummings 'a giant of the sport'
Keen Ice claims Pharoah scalp
Racing lands Winter win
O'Brien family enjoys Wexford wins
Goodwood Celebration for Kodi team
Polybius takes Hopeful honours
Twisler on the march
Rene lands Goodwood riches
Maarek shoots to Bullet victory
Hawk swoops in Prestige
29 August 2015Death of top trainer Bart Cummings
Kodi Celebration for Cox
Deegan hopeful of good Sho
Titania looks to 'step up' in Dance
Gosden youngster impresses at HQ
Ascot date for Dartmouth
Bolger seeking Curragh Smash n grab
Death of northern stalwart Charnock
Ground key for Weld big guns
Panther pleases in Newmarket work
Icon eyeing Prestige prize
Buratino in Middle Park frame
Cox hoping for Kodi Celebration