Gordon Elliott drew a blank on Saturday’s card at Leopardstown but a Grade One victory with Gerri Colombe at Sandown kept things ticking over until he struck with Mighty Potter, another top-class novice, in the Grade One Ladbrokes Novice Chase at Foxrock.
Sure, there were a couple of fences at which he could have been better, but Davy Russell’s mount showed class to take over from long-time leader Galliard Du Mesnil after jumping the second-last.
Just as he did at the end of the Drinmore at Fairyhouse on his previous outing, he galloped away most impressively from the back of the last to put clear daylight between himself and his nearest pursuer. On this occasion, that was Adamantly Chosen, who proved best of the five Closutton runners.
“He’s a good horse,” said Elliott, in his customarily understated manner. “Jack was full of confidence after the last day.
“We watched the race together and he was happy Davy let him roll on when he did. When you watch him, the further he goes, he drops his head and gallops.
“I was nervous before that. I thought we’d win the first, and we were a bit unlucky as she got a bit far back and a few of our big shots yesterday didn’t run and he was the first one that had to win, so brilliant.
“I’d say he’s settling now, as before he was very keen. I love when he gets to the front, and he spits it out.
“From the last to the line, he drops his head and gallops.
“He’ll definitely go to the Turners now, and hopefully the man beside me (Jack Kennedy) will be back to ride him. If he’s not, Davy is there.”
Reflecting on last season’s disappointing effort in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and thinking about the return journey, Elliott added: “He’s a stronger horse now than he was last year.
“He left his hind legs in a hurdle then and Jack, wisely, didn’t knock him about. We probably should have pulled him up straight away, but we jumped another couple of hurdles just to get his confidence back.
“We have a nice team (for Cheltenham). We’re coming under the radar, but we have a nice team of horses. We’ve been hitting the crossbar in a few Grade Ones over the past few weeks, but we’re not in a bad position.”
Elliott and Russell doubled up when The Goffer got on top late to take the valuable Bulmers Leopardstown Handicap Chase.
The only race on the card not to go to the Elliott or Mullins yards was the opener, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares’ Handicap Hurdle, won by Ballybawn Belter in the hands of Simon Torrens.
It was a second winner at this festival for trainer Liz Doyle, who sent out Last Goodbye to win at the inaugural running, in 2018.