My Mate Mark backed to defy long odds at Cheltenham

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Martin Smith will ensure that he enjoys his first trip to the Cheltenham Festival as a trainer, but he has stressed that his representative My Mate Mark will not be there to simply make up the numbers, writes Liam Apicella.

After first and second-placed finishes in his maiden two outings, the four-year-old is an outsider at 40/1 to win Wednesday’s Champion Bumper (5.30pm).

However, Smith believes the Sakhee gelding is capable of defying those odds.

“The yard must savour the experience because you never know when it will happen again, but it is not a day out,” he said.

“We believe the horse can stake a real claim and we will see how he goes.

“It is tough to read the form of the Irish horses in the race, but I fancy him to match up against of the English horses in the field.

“He is in great condition and is ticking over nicely.”

Meanwhile, fellow Newmarket trainer Lucy Wadham is yet to decide which of the two earmarked races Potters Legend will run in.

Wadham will assess the ground at the Gloucestershire track before choosing between the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase and the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Chase.

However, it appears that Amy Murphy will not be making the trip, with Mercian Prince set to miss out on a place at the Festival.

A defeat at Leicester last month proved costly for the six-year-old, who will head for Saturday’s consolation race at Kempton.