Teaforthree: favourite for Saturday's rearranged Coral Welsh NationalPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Curtis hoping it is Tea time in Welsh National
REBECCA CURTIS is aiming to break some long-standing records as the trainer saddles favourite Teaforthree in Saturday's Coral Welsh National at Chepstow.
Based in Newport, Pembrokeshire, Curtis will be carrying local hopes as she bids to send out the first Welsh-trained winner of the race since Norther in 1965.
If that was not enough, Silver Birch (2004) has been the only winning favourite of the 3m5½f Grade 3 marathon since 1994, so the odds appear stacked against 7-2 chance Teaforthree.
However, Curtis is hoping the nine-year-old can shine in what effectively is his Gold Cup, with the race his season's aim.
"He is fresh and well and this has always been his target," said the trainer. "He is in great form and came out of the Hennessy really well, I hope I have got him bang on. He is a brilliant jumper and he stays forever, which is what you need round there."
A competitive field of 18 have been declared, although Alfie Spinner's first preference is for the 3m½ handicap chase at Sandown. Among Teaforthree's rivals is last year's runner-up Giles Cross, Sona Sasta, Monbeg Dude and 2009 Grand National winner Mon Mome.
Rearranged from December 27 when the course was waterlogged, the track is now raceable, but conditions will still be demanding, with the going heavy.
A GoingStick reading of 3.3 is the lowest clerk of the course Keith Ottesen has ever recorded at the track, and he said: "The second and third fences in the back straight have been omitted, as has the middle hurdle in the back straight and first hurdle in the home straight, to avoid the worst of the conditions.
"We had 267mm of rain during December which, considering we have around 900mm on average in a whole year, shows just how wet it's been.
"We've been dry more or less for the past four days and the course has dried out really well. As it has been drying it will be sticky, holding ground and we've taken the worst of it out."