With the Festival edging closer by the day, we take a look of some of the stars that County Meath trainer Gordon Elliott has in his Cheltenham arsenal.
Abracadabras – Unibet Champion Hurdle (14/1)
A dual Grade 1 winner, Abracadabras heads to the Festival with a point to prove. His gut-wrenching second to Shiskhin in the Supreme last year was a tough one to take, but the seven-year-old has put in some strong performances since stepping up into open company, including a tight victory over Saint Roi in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November. He can be forgiven for a poor run in the Matheson Hurdle after being found to have an airway infection and with Epatante suffering a shock defeat in the Christmas Hurdle, Abracadabras could be considered a serious contender in the Champion Hurdle if he builds on his previous Cheltenham form.
Ballyadam – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (16/1)
A very smart two-miler, Ballyadam had shown promise in his first two starts over hurdles, including a Grade 1 success in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle in November. He was disappointing at Leopardstown over Christmas, being beaten by a whopping 16 lengths by Supreme market favourite Appreciate It. However, his first two races should be enough to put some faith in the six-year-old and Gordon Elliott holds this horse in high regard. There are lofty expectations from Ballyadam’s yard, but he has shown that he is a talented novice to watch out for and could well be some each-way value in the Supreme this year.
Coko Beach – National Hunt Chase (14/1)
A horse that has shown plenty of promise in his short time over fences, Coko Beach got off the mark on Thursday with an eye-catching victory in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park. On his maiden start over an extended 3m and with blinkers on for the first time, the six-year-old looks mightily impressive with his fluent jumping and superb staying ability in the closing stages. With that performance alone, Coko Beach has emerged as an interesting contender for the National Hunt Chase, should Gordon Elliott opt for this race.
Delta Work – Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup (25/1)
It hasn’t been the most straightforward of seasons for Delta Work, who has disappointed on his two starts so far this time round. He was never on terms in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at the Down Royal Festival, and he unseated rider Sean Flanagan in the Savills Chase over Christmas. However, it should be noted that Jack Kennedy, who usually rides Delta Work, was sidelined with injury for the Grade 1 chase at Leopardstown and so that could have well been a contributing factor to the eight-year-old’s poor performance. Kennedy will be reunited with Delta Work for the Irish Gold Cup this weekend and if they are able to bounce back to last season’s winning form, Gordon Elliott’s runner could well be a threat to Al Boum Photo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Envoi Allen – Marsh Novices‘ Chase (10/11)
Dubbed as the banker of the Festival, Envoi Allen’s rise to racing royalty continues with the aim of a third straight Cheltenham success. With an incredible 11 wins in 11 starts, the seven-year-old shows no fear in any opponent he faces and has made a seamless transition from hurdles to fences. With the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle already under his belt, the Marsh Novices Chase has been made the clear target for one of the National Hunt’s most exciting talents. Gordon Elliott’s superstar is the undisputed favourite for the contest and it will take something truly special to beat him at the Festival this year.
Farouk D’alene – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (16/1)
After digging deep to register his first Graded success at Limerick in December, Farouk D’alene extended his career record to four victory in five starts under rules. The six-year old has proven to be a strong stayer and has shown he has the ability to perform on soft and heavy ground. Those are serious perks for the Albert Bartlett which is known to be a tough race at the best of time. It is a race that Gordon Elliott is yet to claim victory in, and Farouk D’alene could well be the first for the County Meade trainer.
Odds are Bet365 and subject to change
Galvin – National Hunt Chase (5/1)
Spearheading the Gordon Elliott attack in the National Hunt Chase is Galvin, who has won four races over fences out of a possible four this season. After coming second in the now-defunct Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase, the seven-year-old has rightly established himself as a serious contender for the race after landing his first Graded success at Tipperary in October. He follow that up less than three weeks later with his first win at Prestbury Park, landing a Novices’ Chase in the Showcase Weekend. Elliott has won this race four times since 2011, and Galvin has clearly shown the ability to make it a fifth success for the trainer.
Presenting Percy – Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup (33/1)
A dual Cheltenham Festival winner, Presenting Percy joined Gordon Elliott’s yard in July with his owner Phillip Reynolds hoping he could revive the ten-year-old’s previous form, after two disappointing seasons. After weakening late on and only managing to take fourth in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase, he returned to winning ways after seeing off Kemboy by 6 ½ lengths to win the Boomerang.ie Chase. However, he came a disappointing eighth in the Savills Chase after fading late on once again. Presenting Percy can put up a big race on his day, and if he can recapture that form that saw him win twice at the Festival, he could be a big player on Gold Cup day.
Sire Du Berlais – Paddy Power Stayers‘ Hurdle (9/1)
Back-to-back Pertemps Final winner Sire Du Berlais returns to Cheltenham with a new target – the Stayers’ Hurdle. It seems that Gordon Elliott’s dual Festival winner has gone under the radar somewhat, as with the two heavyweights Paisley Park and Thyme Hill set to clash once again in this contest, it is hard to go slightly unnoticed. Sire Du Berlais is a proven course and distance winner and has put in two strong efforts this season, landing the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan before coming third in the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle. A horse that is known to travel smoothly and has that extra speed in the final stages, the nine-year-old could spring a surprise in this season’s renewal of the Stayers’.
Sir Gerhard – Weatherbys Champion Bumper (3/1)
A very exciting prospect for Cheverley Park Stud, Sir Gerhard is currently living up to the high expectations placed on him so far this season. He bolted up by 14 lengths on his bumper debut at Down Royal in October before winning in Listed company in December at Navan. The six-year-old has shown to have incredible acceleration and clearly has the potential to give his owners their third straight win in the Champion Bumper. A future star for Gordon Elliott’s yard.
Tiger Roll – Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (7/1)
The dual Grand National winner could well be heading to the Cheltenham Festival for the final time, seeking redemption in the Cross Country Chase. Tiger Roll is seeking his fifth Festival win, but with the disappointing season he has had so far this season, with his only start over obstacles resulting with him being pulled up in the November edition of the Cross Country. It should be noted however that the last time Gordon Elliott’s star was pulled up in a race was back in November 2017. He made a poor showing in the December edition of this contest, before landing the Cross Country at the Festival and the Grand National. Tiger Roll hasn’t raced since November and will come into the race fresh, so it could be interesting to see if that can revive his previous winning form.
Zanahiyr – JCB Triumph Hurdle (11/4)/Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (14/1)
Zanahiyr has made an impressive start to life over hurdles, with the three-year-old winning all three starts, including two Graded contests. He has the form to show why he is the leading contender for the Triumph Hurdle and his ability is unquestioned. The only argument that could be made for him is he is still currently entered into the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Zanahiyr would receive a 8lb age allowance and could potentially be an interesting challenger for the race. But the target looks to be the Triumph and as one of Ireland’s premier three-year-old hurdles, he would be the one to beat in this contest.
*Odds are Bet365 and subject to change
Weekend Cheltenham Clues: Elimay now clear favourite for the Mares’ Chase
JP McManus owned Elimay a cosy winner of Saturday’s Opera Hat at Naas
A weekend which saw several key meeting abandoned due to the weather, punters were left with three jumps cards across England and Ireland to engage with over the two days.
Elimay produced an impressive performance at Naas on Saturday, as she landed the hotly-contested Opera Hat Mares Chase.
The seven-year-old made strong headway three out, took the lead from Gordon Elliott’s Shattered Love before the last and went clear in the run-in to win easily by 5 ½ lengths.
Willie Mullins’ mare has seen her price for the Mares’ Chase cut even further, as the current favourite was trimmed from 4/1 to 5/2.
Shady Operator got Sunday’s action underway, as the eight-year old landed the P.P Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase at Punchestown.
Enda Boldger’s gelding, who is now 14/1 for the Glenfarclas Cross County Chase, went clear at the last before staying on to win by 2 ½ lengths from Peter Maher’s Blast Of Koeman.
Thedeviliscoachman recorded his second victory in 16 days, as the gelding claimed the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle.
The five-year-old kept on well and fought off a late challenge from the progressing French Light to take his third win over hurdles in four starts.
Noel Meade’s runner is a 16/1 shot for the County Hurdle, while he also remains at 20/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Competing in handicap company for the first time over fences, The Big Dog landed a maiden victory over the larger obstacles as he took the €80,000 Punchestown Grand National Trial.
Peter Fahey’s runner travelled well throughout the contest and looked to be cruising when he kicked clear on the home turn.
However, Screaming Colours made up ground late on and produced a late challenge, but The Big Dog kept on well and battled back to win by half a length.
The eight-year old now holds a price of 20/1 for the National Hunt Chase and the Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Festival in March.
Meanwhile across the Irish Sea, Wilde About Oscar returned to winning ways after a strong performance in the Bet At racingtv.com Listed Novices’ Hurdle at Exeter.
The six-year-old, who is 20/1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, travelled well throughout and saw off favourite The Glancing Queen in the run-in by 7 ½ lengths.
Weekend Racing: Five jump races to watch in Great Britain and Ireland
Despite abandonments to Warwick and Newbury’s cards, there is still some top quality jumps racing in Britain and Ireland on Saturday and Sunday
With Newbury and Warwick both called off due to frost on, all eyes turns to Exeter, Naas and Punchestown for the weekend racing action.
From a hotly-contested Irish Grand National trial to an intriguing Listed Novices’ Hurdle known for its previous winners, there is still plenty of exciting races to sink your teeth into.
Here are five races to tune into over the weekend…
BBA Ireland Limited Opera Hat Mares Chase – Naas, 1.40 Saturday
Currently the 4/1 favourite for the Mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Elimay makes her final prep run in the Listed contest at Naas before heading to Prestbury Park. The seven-year-old spearheads the Willie Mullins challenge and is joined by stablemate Yukon Lil, who is aiming to land a first success in Graded company. Veteran mare Shattered Love and 2019 Mares Novices’ Hurdle third Tintangle lead the charge for Gordon Elliott while Waitnsee lines up for John Patrick Ryan.
I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle – Punchestown, 2.00 Sunday
Sunday’s action gets underway with Power Of Pause looking to land his first victory in Listed company. Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old, who came third in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle last month, can book his ticket to Cheltenham with success at Punchestown. He face a tough challenge in Supreme contender Thedevilscoachman, who was impressive when landing victory at Navan two weeks ago for Noel Meade. Joseph O’Brien holds two entries in the contest, with Uhtred making his second start over hurdles while Fire Attack will need to bounce back after suffering a late fall last time out.
Bet At racingtv.com Novices’ Hurdle – Exeter, 3.10 Sunday
A race renowned for broadcasting future stars, with Gold Cup winner Native River and Champion Chase victor Politologue both landing this contest in recent years. The Glancing Queen, who took third in the Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury over Christmas, makes her last appearance before heading to the Festival for most likely the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle. Dan Skelton’s Wilde About Oscar will be aimed to return to winning ways after being pulled up in the same contest, while Johnny Farrelly will be hopeful Breffniboy can land his sixth win in eight races.
Punchestown Grand National Trial Handicap Chase – Punchestown, 4.30 Sunday
Gordon Elliott sends six runners to Punchestown for the Irish Grand National trial, as the County Meade trainer attempts to land this contest for the third successive time. 2019 winner Doukinos and top weight Alpha Des Obeaux line-up for Elliott alongside stablemates Roaring Bull, Out Sam and Monbeg Notorious, while General Prinicple takes second reserve. Race favourite The Big Dog makes his handicap debut for Peter Fahey, while Leopardstown Christmas Festival winner Midnight Maestro will be looking to continue his good run of form.
Join Racing TV Now Mares’ Chase – Exeter – 4.40 Sunday
The final major contest of the weekend sees National Hunt Chase entrant Snow Leopardess attempt to claim her second win over fences for Charlie Longsdon. The Grade 2 winner, who placed in all four of her starts over fences, looks to continue her good form and faces challengers in Rebecca Curtis’ Legends Gold and Alan King’s Midnightreferendum.
Three value-priced Irish runners to consider over the weekend
The three Irish runners you need to side with this weekend
With the weather wiping out all but one National Hunt meeting in Great Britain, jumps fans turn to the Irish cards in search for some value selections.
Here are three runners that could hint some value in the meeting across the Irish sea.
UTHRED (2.00 PUNCHESTOWN, SUNDAY) – 9/2 (William Hill)
A bright prospect from Joseph O’Brien’s yard, Uthred makes the step up with a tough assignment on his hands. The six-year-old hasn’t been seen since December 2019, but he has shown his ability on his three starts under rules. A strong second in a maiden hurdle at Cork, he quickened up well on his final outing to win by 4 ½ lengths in a Listed bumper. If Uhtred can continue to show promise, he could easily be in the mix here and take on the likes of Power Of Pause and Thedevilscoachman.
ALL ABOUT JACK (4.00 NAAS, SATURDAY) – 12/1 (bet365)
Colm Murphy’s six-year old may not have caught the eye in his first year over hurdles, but he could take his first rules win here at Naas. He was unlucky not to win at Punchestown after being beaten by a neck and he can be forgiven for being pulled up on his last outing after being found to be suffering from heat stress. However, the gelding could have more to come if his bloodlines are anything to go by. His sire has produced Stayers’ Hurdle winners Paisley Park and Lisnagar Oscar, as well as Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby and dual Aintree Hurdle victor Oscar Whisky. At a predicted price of 12/1, there could be some each-way value if the six-year-old lives up to his potential.
MONBEG NOTORIOUS (4.30 PUNCHESTOWN, SUNDAY) – 40/1 (Paddy Power + Betfair)
A part of the six-strong Gordon Elliott force in the Irish Grand National Trial, Monbeg Notorious could well be a surprise contender for the County Meade trainer. A winner of Thyestes Handicap Chase off a mark of 137 three years ago, the ten-year-old has struggled this season after being pulled up on both starts. But he is now back at an interesting mark and is a strong runner on heavy ground. With further rain predicted in County Kildare, this could be a huge opportunity for Monbeg Notorious to roll back the year and at 40/1, there is some clear each-way value if the place terms are right.
With the Cheltenham Festival just around the corner, it’s time to get back into the spirit of this grand occasion, and for that, you’ve come to the right place.
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