Just catching up with you ahead of a busy weekend both sides of the Irish Sea and it’s great to see Gordon’s (Elliott) horses running so well. This is usually the time of the year he really gets going and it was great for everyone at the yard to get a five-timer in Down Royal last week writes DAVY RUSSELL.
Just before we get into the weekend’s racing, I see there’s a picture of me doing the rounds on facebook. I remember the race as if it was yesterday – it was the Champion Novice Chase in Punchestown and we were about 40 lengths clear coming to the last. It’s never over till it’s over and he made his only bad mistake of the race at the last. Not sure what my marks were for artistic impression but we managed to defy gravity and get the job done – just!
2.55 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase ⭐ STAR PRICES ⭐
Gordon has just the two runners over the three days at Cheltenham and they are both in the Cross Country Chase on Friday. There’s no reason he’s not having more runners at Cheltenham other than it’s also a big weekend of racing in Ireland and there are plenty of good opportunities closer to home.
The Cross Country Chase is a handicap and I’m finding it hard to choose between the stablemates Delta Work
Delta Work should improve for his recent spin at Punchestown but then you can argue that Galvin goes well fresh.
The key formline is obviously from the Festival where Delta Work beat me on Galvin by two and half lengths when the pair dominated the finish of the Glenfarclas Chase (pictured below). With Delta Work 1lb better in here I suppose it’s likely that the form will be confirmed on the probable same soft ground.
2.20 Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase ⭐ STAR PRICES ⭐
Stage Star and Notlongtillmay deserve to sit at the top of the market but I can’t help but think the form of The Real Whacker is stronger. The concern would be that he hasn’t had the benefit of a recent run and is having his first run since the Festival where he stayed on in game fashion to hold on from Gerri Colombe who was flying at the finish of the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase. It’s really strong course form and he seems just as effective over the shorter trip too.
If there’s a bigger priced runner in the race that could go well I think it’s the Venetia Williams trained Easy As That. The stable are red hot at the moment, he’s got a nice weight and I think he’s a lot better than he showed the last day in Sandown when he just didn’t seem to take to the course.
2.55 Shloer Chase ⭐ STAR PRICES ⭐
This looks a really good renewal with little to choose between the six-strong field on ratings. Jonbon (pictured below) will do for me. He goes well fresh and I was really taken with his win in Sandown at the end of last season in the Celebration Chase. He’s only lost two races in 12 during his NH career and one of those defeats was at the hands of Constitution Hill!
2.32 Bar One Racing Troytown Handicap Chase ⭐ STAR PRICES ⭐
Plenty of people talking about Gordon having so many runners entered but it’s a big pot at his local track and he targets the race as an opportunity. I’ll say this for Gordon, he staffs up accordingly when the yard have a lot of runners at a meeting. Just making sure that everyone working has a comfortable day as possible.
Looking at all his runners you’d have to say that Gevrey really proved himself in the Munster National in Limerick and he also outran his 125/1 starting price when fourth in Cheltenham in the Magners Plate. You’ve always got to respect a horse that has proven form in these big field handicaps.
I could also see Minella Crooner running a decent race. He ran no sort of a race in Cheltenham but has run well fresh before.