MELISSA JONES: Gwent racehorse Modus on track for Cheltenham

First published in Sport

DREAMS of Cheltenham Festival glory are very much alive for the connections of Modus, reported to be thriving ahead of his date with destiny.

It's just over two weeks until the son of Motivator lines up in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, fresh from a little holiday after his rout at the course on New Year's Day.

Eating more than usual and still with his summer coat, trainer Robert Stephens has every indication his runner will be spot on for March 12.

"He's so fresh he has needed some extra work," said Stephens from his yard this week.

"We are very happy with him, he had an easier time of it after his last run and we've had no hold ups since."

As one of the better fancied runners in the expected line-up, it's pretty incredible Modus is trained by a man who is in his first season in his new career.

The former jockey has only had a licence since the summer, sending out a handful of runners, and now goes head to head with the likes of Ireland's Willie Mullins, who has a brilliant record in this particular race.

"I would have been very shocked had someone told me when I started out this would be the situation I would be in," Stephens said.

"It's very exciting though, this is what you want. We've got a good group going up to support us on the day."

Priced at 10-1, victory would be a truly Gwent one, as the horse was born at Oakgrove Stud, Chepstow, a town where owner John Deer still lives.

Its racecourse hosts Care for Casualties raceday this afternoon, with the first race at 1.20. It's an important fundraiser for one of the Rifles’ charities, which provides life changing support to wounded Riflemen, their families and of those killed on operations. There's some great racing too- the track's first Pertemps qualifier and more than £75,000 worth of prize money.

The weather looks set fair too, which has become a rarity of late!

Planet of Sound (NAP) is my bet of the day in the 3.50 at Kempton.

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