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