NORTON racehorse trainer Brian Ellison has said the local racing industry is in good health as he prepares for the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.

Mr Ellison, who has a yard at Spring Cottage Stables in Langton Road, is the trainer of Definitly Red, one of the 19 runners in the prestigious race, and named by some among the key contenders.

He said that his main focus at the moment is Cheltenham.

“We have changed nothing regarding his routine,” he said, talking about Definitly Red’s preparations ahead of the race.

“He is cantering away every day and may school one more time and may have another gallop.

“I have had a look at all the competition. It is the hottest race of the year and he’ll have to be on his A-game to go and try and win it.”

Bookies are listing Definitly Red as being among the key contenders in the race.

He was also name-checked as a tip on Radio 4’s Today programme last week by legendary trainer Henrietta Knight, who trained Best Mate to three consecutive wins in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the early 2000s.

Despite the expectation, Mr Ellison said that he isn’t feeling any nerves. “I’m not feeling any pressure. I am really looking forward to the day,” he said.

On the wider point of the racing industry in Malton, Norton and Ryedale, he added that the sector is in rude health, with local representations at key events across the country.

“Malton is in a good place at the moment,” he said.

“There are a lot of good trainers up here and we’re represented at Cheltenham just as we are at Royal Ascot.”

The Cheltenham Gold Cup will take place this Friday, March 16, on the final day of the four-day Cheltenham Festival.

The race is run over more than three miles and there are 22 fences to be jumped.

This year, the Cheltenham Festival will boast record prize-money of £4,590,000 over its four days, which equals a seven per cent rise on last year.

As a result, each day will carry more than £1 million in prize-money for the first time. More than £150 million is expected to be gambled over the course of the festival.