Festive wishes: Gordon Elliott on his likely runners at Leopardstown’s Christmas festival

The top trainer runs the rule over some of his big hopes. 
Festive wishes: Gordon Elliott on his likely runners at Leopardstown’s Christmas festival

WRAPPED UP: Trainer Gordon Elliott and groom Rachel Egan with Galvin ahead of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

MONDAY, DECEMBER 26 

Racing Post App Novice Chase 

“It probably looks like we’ve got a good bunch of novice chasers. We have a few nice novice hurdlers coming on as well, but I’d say we might be a little stronger with the novice chasers at the moment.

Fil Dor: “I thought he jumped very well (in Navan on Sunday). He was foot perfect, he attacked his fences, and always looked like he was going to be a chaser, the way he jumped his hurdles. I know he made a mistake at the second-last the last day, at Naas, but I thought he was good.

“I’d imagine this race is where he’ll go. It looks perfect timing and is a great race and, after his win on Sunday, he’ll definitely head to Leopardstown. He looks like he’s going to be a better chaser than he was a hurdler. He’s got stronger with a summer’s grass, so we’re looking forward to him.” 

Hollow Games: “He was in Navan this morning and jumped very well. I might have been running him over the wrong distance last year. I was trying to make him into a stayer as I thought he was a two-six or three-mile horse but the way he ran over two-mile-one at Navan the last day, it just might be his trip. He’ll probably go to Navan on Sunday-week and then on to Leopardstown for this race, all being well.”

Mighty Potter: “He’ll go to Fairyhouse (Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase) on Sunday and then on to Leopardstown after that. It’s not confirmed what race he will run in yet, but he is another horse that schooled very well this morning. Jack had a smile on his face after riding him this morning so when he’s happy, I’m happy.

“He’s gone more relaxed this year than he was last year. [At Down Royal] it was job done. There was nothing pretty about it. He had to do all the donkeywork himself and it wasn’t ideal, but that’s why I was keen to get him to Navan this morning for a bit more experience. We think he’s nice.”

Saint Felicien: “You mightn’t see him until after Christmas. He’s just not there yet. He was very good over hurdles last season, but we haven’t just hit top gear with him yet this season, so we’ll let him tell us when he’s ready.” 

Three Stripe Life: “He blew fairly hard after the race at Naas. He’s a big, gross horse and I’d say there could be a lot of improvement in him from that run. I think two and a half miles is probably as far as he’s going to go at the moment.” 


TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27 

Paddy Rewards Club Chase 

Riviere D’etel: “Very disappointing yesterday (at Carlisle) and so she’s going to Jerry Kelly’s for an MOT. She never took hold of the bridle, which is not like her, and she didn’t jump. She’s home this morning and she’s sound, but we’ll give her an MOT during the week and whether we get her to Christmas, I don’t know.” 

Andy Dufresne: “I thought he ran alright the other day at Navan. Rachael (Blackmore, on Captain Guinness) got a freebie in front and was very clever on the winner. Our lad will have come on from that and I’d imagine he’ll go for this race.” 

Paddy Power Future Champions’ Novice Hurdle 

Absolute Notions: “He hadn’t a lot of work done before he ran (in the Land Rover Bumper) but he did work okay and that’s why we ran him in the race. He wasn’t our number one string in the race, but he was very, very good. I loved the way he hit the line, and he did the same the last day (over hurdles at Punchestown). I’d say he’s a good horse. Looking at that, I’d imagine he’ll be stepping up in trip.” 

American Mike: “Back to the drawing board with him (after his defeat on Sunday at Navan). He wasn’t right after the race so he’s going to have to have a few easy weeks and see where we are. It was disappointing, but that’s the game we’re in. He’s a very, very good horse. He’d have pulled up with another furlong yesterday, but we know what the problem is, and we just have to iron it out now.” 

Amir Kabir: “He was very good in Listowel, and I’d say he’ll probably run in this race. He gave himself a bit of a cut in Listowel and missed a bit of work, and that’s why he won’t run until Leopardstown. He’s a nice horse and I’d imagine he’ll love the ground at Leopardstown.”

Demandrivingdouvan: “He’s a talking horse. I’m not doing all the talking about him, but he is a nice horse. I’d say he will be better with a bit of a trip. He goes to Punchestown tomorrow and I’d say you could probably see him stepping out in trip afterwards.” 

Imagine: “He could go here. He’s a good horse. He might have won (on Saturday in Gowran) if he had jumped the last, but the winner (Inothewayurthinkin) looked very, very smart.” 

Irish Point: “He looks good, and we like him. He does everything very, very nicely. He has a bit of class, a bit of boot, a bit of speed. He’s a good horse, and hopefully he’ll be lucky for Brian (Acheson, owner) and Robcour.” 

Itswhatunitesus: “He’s not easy to train as he’s very highly strung. I’d imagine he’ll go here. It’s a Grade 1, his owner would like to have a runner in Leopardstown, so he’ll probably run here.” 

Paddy Power Chase 

“It’s a great pot. It’s a €110,000 race and is a very tough race. I’d say Frontal Assault will run here. He's a heavy enough horse and Jack said he had a bit of a blow (after his run in the Troytown on Sunday) so I don’t think the trainer had him 100% right yesterday. He’ll have come on for the run, so don’t forget about him. I could have been a bit harder on him.” 


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28 

Jack de Bromhead Christmas Hurdle 

Sire Du Berlais: “He’s unbelievable. He’s a gentleman of a horse around the yard, and everyone loves him. Kids could ride him. He’s a star. Shows absolutely zero at home but always seems to come good in the spring, so I’d probably wait until later on in the season. He seems to get better the further on in the season he goes.” 

Zanahiyr (and Queens Brook): “He has had a wind operation since (his defeat in the Lismullen Hurdle). This race is where he’ll go, I’d imagine, and I might step Queens Brook up to three miles for this race. She could be one to follow, definitely.” 

Commander Of Fleet: “He’s one of those horses that throws in a good race every year. He could have five bad runs and then he wins one, so he’ll do it at some stage during the season but I’m not sure when it’s going to be.” 

Savills Chase 

Conflated: “Very happy with him (at Down Royal). He had a good blow and will come on an awful lot for the run. This will be his next target and we’re looking forward to going here with him. He probably surprised me a bit on the day (when winning the Irish Gold Cup). I didn’t know that he was that good, but he’s a fair horse on his day.” 

Galvin: “He scoped dirty after the race (Champion Chase at Down Royal) but he’s back in good nick. He’s got a big heart. He finished fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves.” 

Fury Road: “He always seemed to be a little bit of a bridle horse, but I liked the way he put his head down and galloped to the line (at Down Royal). He’ll love the ground at Leopardstown.” 


THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29 

Neville Hotels Novice Chase 

Minella Crooner: “I think three miles will suit him. This will, more than likely, be his target.

Gerri Colombe: “If the ground came up very soft - which I couldn’t see happening - three miles is made for him. He’s a very good horse. He’s unbeaten so far, so hopefully we’ll keep him going, but the ground is key.

“He’ll handle better ground and if it was the end of the season and it was Cheltenham or Leopardstown or Punchestown, you might have a go, but at this stage of the season we won’t chance him unless there is soft in the ground. He looked very good the last day.” 

Matheson Hurdle 

Pied Piper: “This will be his next run. He’s two from two this year but is going to have to improve again to get to Grade 1 level, but he has got stronger.” Teahupoo: “We probably made a mistake running him on better ground. He’s not the biggest horse but he’s just so effective on soft ground so we won’t run him unless there’s soft in the description.” 

Bumpers 

“We’ll get next Saturday out of the way first. It’s a very important race – my uncle’s race – in Fairyhouse. I can’t win it, but I’d follow whatever runs in that.

“We have a lot of nice young horses, and the horse that finished fourth in the maiden hurdle yesterday (My Trump Card), I’d follow wherever he goes.”

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