Irish trainer Eddie Harty has admitted he wouldn't swap Captain Cee Bee for any other horse set to line up in this month's Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.
Harty's nine-year-old won the Supreme Novices' Hurdle two years ago and while he missed last year's Festival through injury, he heads the ante-post lists for the two-mile novices' championship.
Winner of two of his three starts over fences, Captain Cee Bee tipped up when looking sure to take a hand in the finish of a Leopardstown Grade One over Christmas, handing the advantage to Sizing Europe.
That rival is again set to reoppose at Cheltenham and while Harty is aware of the threat, he believes Captain Cee Bee is a rightful favourite.
"I think he's probably the best one in it but it's racing and it's competition and that's what it is all about," said the trainer.
"I thought Somersby was quite impressive at Sandown, he jumped well. Riverside Theatre was impressive at Kempton at Christmas but I wouldn't swop my horse for any of them in it."
Despite Captain Cee Bee crashing out on his only attempt at the highest level over fences, Harty feels his jumping is well up to scratch.
"I wouldn't be worried about his jumping. If you go back three fences from the last at Leopardstown he jumped immaculately," he explained.
"The last fence he was going so easily I think there was just a loss of concentration and he's just caught his stifle on it - he jumped it cleanly in front.
"If the horse hadn't knuckled on landing you would have said he junped it well.
"They go quicker at Cheltenham and I think he will jump better, or I hope he would."
Captain Cee Bee missed last season through injury, but Harty reports his charge to be just as good now and preparations have been going well.
"I think he is better (since his injury)," he said.
"He might not be faster, but he is as fast and whether you can call that an improvement or not, I don't know. He's a stronger horse now than he was two years ago.
"He's in great form. He schooled last week which will be his last school before Cheltenham.
"He did a nice piece of work yesterday on the grass and that will be his last strong piece before Cheltenham and now it's just fingers crossed and get there in one piece.
"He has a great cruising speed, he's high class and hopefully everything will go according to plan in 10 days' time."
Officials at Cheltenham are due to commence watering on Monday, with the ground currently good to soft, good in places.
Harty feels sound conditions will suit his contender.
"I still maintain good ground will bring out the best in Captain Cee Bee but it's more of an irrelevance now than it would have been in the past," he explained.
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