ROYALE Pagaille carries local hopes in Friday’s Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, after sixth and fifth places in the last two runnings.

Trainer Venetia Williams and her Wye Valley yard saw the experienced campaigner come through to finish second to Bravemansgame in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, after stablemate L’Homme Presse unseated jockey Chalie Deutsch while challenging at the last fence.

L’Homme Presse has been ruled out with a long-term injury from Cheltenham, while Royale Pagaille was also discovered to have picked up a problem at Kempton, but is now fit to go again.

The King’s Caple yard near Ross were buoyed by a first victory for their French horse Ramo on Monday in the feature £20,000 handicap hurdle at Plumpton, making all the running and pulling clear under Deutsch.

And the jockey said of Friday’s showpiece race on Royale Pagaille, where the recent rainy weather will suit the horse: “He’ll love the ground and he definitely stays. He’s a lovely horse and we’ll have a go.”

Venetia, who was the subject of a two-page feature in this week’s Sunday Mirror, entitled “My Yard is my Family”, said last month of her Gold Cup entry: “Royale Pagaille is fine. He needed time after the King George because he got a wound which wasn’t superficial, so that’s why it has taken quite a while.

“He is back on the gallops now and he will go straight to the Gold Cup. We haven’t got time to go for anything else.”

The trainer is also sending out Funambule Sivola in the Queen Mother’s Champion Chase today (Wednesday, March 15), who was runner-up at 40-1 last year.

Venetia hailed the horse as “the fastest thing” she’s ever trained, after his second Game Spirit Chase victory in succession at Newbury last month, storming to victory under Deutsch having undergone surgery and a 239-day break.

And the trainer said: “He’s the fastest thing I’ve ever had – good job my Aston Martin can’t jump – he’s very quick.

“It was all speed. The owners asked what the tactics were and I said you don’t have tactics in a race like this on this type of ground – just go as fast as you can!”

Another of her horses to look out for is Frero Banbou in Thursday’s Magners Plate, who looks to have an outstanding chance.

Williams has a great record in the race, saddling three winners (Idole First 2007, Something Wells 2009 and Carrickboy 2013) and four runner-ups.