DRYING ground could be the key to success for Emma Lavelle at this year’s Cheltenham Festival as the Malborough-based trainer prepares for the most exciting week on the racing calendar.

Lavelle has six horses entered across eight races at this year’s festival, but she’ll have to wait until Friday - the final day of racing - for her biggest hopes to take to the Prestbury Park turf.

Promising novices Enniscoffey Oscar and Paisley Park will both take their chance in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over three miles.

The race has a rich history of providing the sport with Gold Cup calibre horses, proven by Bobs Worth’s triumph in 2011 before eventually going on to land the festival’s biggest prize two years later.

But Lavelle, based at the Bonita Racing Stables, emphasised bagging a winner at the festival will never be easy.

She said: “Every race at Cheltenham is unbelievably competitive. Both Enniscoffey Oscar and Paisley Park are two smart novices.

“Oscar would prefer the ground to be drying out while Paisley is less dependant.

“Our other big hope is Flemcara in the Coral Cup while Woolstone One may dodge the Mares’ race to run in Ireland but we’re undecided yet.

“If I could pick the ground I’d want it very soft on Wednesday and for it to dry out to the slow side of good by Friday.”

An unwanted, and untimely, appearance from the ‘Beast from the East’ caused chaos in the racing world with multiple meetings abandoned while stable staff braved to elements to ensure horses carried out their usual morning gallop.

While Lavelle struggled with the conditions, she did lose just one day of work - but even she admits losing a day is not ideal.

She said: “At the end of last week it was pretty tough. “People were trying to get in to ride the horses but couldn’t reach us.

“We have set work days and what we don’t want is for that routine to be altered. Occasionally it happens like last week though.”

Aside from her hopes, Lavelle said the Amy Murphy trained Kalashnikov stands a strong chance in the first race of the festival - the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

She said: “There’s nothing like the buzz of Cheltenham.

“Racing nowadays is obsessed by it. You can have a winner in October and people will ask ‘will it go to Cheltenham?’. It’s unique.”