Ryanair Chase contender Eldorado Allen will lead a small but select Colin Tizzard team into battle at this year's Cheltenham Festival.
The Dorset handler, who is due to hand over the reins to son Joe at the end of the season, is due to saddle around a dozen horses at the showpiece in the Cotswolds.
The squad might be lacking the star quality of years gone by, but Joe Tizzard is pleased with the horses that are bound for Prestbury Park.
“We’re a bit light on numbers, there’s no two ways about it,” he said.
“Those elite horses are hard to come by. We were lucky to have Cue Card, who kept taking us to the big days, and so did Native River.
“Hopefully we’ve got some youngsters who are going to progress to that stage and I think we’ve got some chances in the handicaps. We haven’t got a standout horse, that’s for certain.”
Eldorado Allen has flown the Venn Farm flag with distinction this season – winning the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter and the Denman Chase at Newbury, as well as finishing second in two Grade Twos.
There was talk of a potential Gold Cup bid following his most recent triumph, but he will instead drop back in distance for a tilt at the Ryanair.
“Eldorado Allen is our highest-rated horse going into the Festival and he’d have to have a really competitive each-way chance,” Tizzard added.
“We’re going to run him in the Ryanair. There was talk of sticking him in the Gold Cup after he won the Denman, but it’s £30,000 to supplement and I’m not sure he’s an out-and-out stayer.
“We’ve all had a chat about it and for now I think he’s a Ryanair horse. There’s a big difference between three miles on good ground around Newbury and three and a quarter miles at Cheltenham in a Gold Cup. I think he’d travel in a Gold Cup, but he can have a go at that next year. He’s always been a nice horse and I think he goes into the Ryanair with a nice chance.”
War Lord has won three of his four starts over fences this season, his only defeat coming at the hands of Arkle favourite Edwardstone in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase.
He is set for a rematch with his Sandown conqueror on day one of the Festival.
Tizzard said: “He’s had a hell of a season – he’s done absolutely nothing wrong.
“He won nicely at Newton Abbot at the start, then he went up to Carlisle and won, then he was second to Edwardstone in the Henry VIII and was probably most impressive at Lingfield.
“He certainly wouldn’t mind a bit of cut in the ground and he’s improved no end for going chasing.
“Take Edwardstone out, it’s a wide-open Arkle and I don’t see any reason why he can’t sneak a place.”
Two years on from being beaten just a length and a half into third place in the Gold Cup, Lostintranslation is set to make his handicap debut in the Ultima Handicap Chase.
The 10-year-old has suffered his fair share of problems over the past couple of seasons, but showed the fire is still there when winning at Ascot in the autumn and Tizzard is blaming testing conditions for his disappointing latest effort in the Ascot Chase.
He said: “He’s got very ground dependent as he’s got older. You could see at Ascot after the third fence he was hating the ground, but he didn’t have a hard race and he’s dropped to 155, so we’re going to run him in the Ultima.
“He’s never run in a handicap in his life – he’s always been in weight-for-age races or graded races. If he came back to his form on decent ground at Ascot in the autumn, there’s no reason why he couldn’t run well. He was third in a Gold Cup and off 155 he should be very competitive.”
The Tizzards are planning to fire a twin assault at the Grand Annual, with Amarillo Sky and Elixir De Nutz both being primed for the fiercely competitive two-mile handicap chase.
Last season’s Albert Bartlett runner-up Oscar Elite, meanwhile, could run in the Kim Muir.
“Amarillo Sky is rated 143 now after going up 8lb after winning at Newbury the other day. He was quite impressive, he’s a progressive horse and a good jumper and good traveller – I think he’s got a good chance,” said Tizzard.
“Elixir De Nutz is coming back to form. He won a Tolworth Hurdle, but it went wrong in the Supreme and then we had two years then where we had a job to train him – his legs were so fragile.
“But this year we’ve got him back and he’s also eligible for a £50,000 bonus because he won at Plumpton and he bolted up at Kempton the last day.
“He’s got class and he’s a novice. He needs a bit of luck, but touch wood he jumps well and there wouldn’t be masses between him and Amarillo Sky.”
Jpr One is being prepared for the curtain-raising Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but needs to bounce back from a disappointing effort in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month.
His stable companion Scarface, who pushed the smart Skytastic close at Ascot a few weeks ago, is set to run in the longer Ballymore.
Tizzard said: “Jpr One was disappointing in the Betfair, but it just blew his mind a little bit. He was cantering down at the start and ran the whole race on one breath – he was just tanking a little bit.
“I want to get the big-day experiences into him, so I want to take him to Cheltenham and Aintree so that he learns for next year and is aware of the situation.
“He’s a gorgeous-looking horse with some very good form from his first three runs. I think you can draw a line through his Betfair run.
“I’m not expecting him to win a Supreme, but I think he’s above average and could quite easily finish in the first half a dozen.
“If you said to me at the start of the season that Scarface was going to be a Cheltenham horse I’d have laughed at you, but he’s just improved with every run.
“He’s a big price, but I could see him finishing sixth or seven and learning loads.”