Cheltenham Festival 2023: Gordon Elliott's Horses To Follow At The Festival
- Delta Work To Win The Cross-Country Chase - 6/5 With Parimatch
- Mighty Potter To Win The Turners Novice Chase - 5/4 With Ladbrokes
- Teahupoo To Win The Stayers’ Hurdle - 4/1 With Ladbrokes
- Gerri Colombe To Win The Brown Advisory Novices Chase - 6/4 With BetVictor
Gordon Elliott is already high on the list of all-time winners at the Cheltenham Festival with 34, and betting sites are suggesting that he will augment that figure this week.
That tally places Elliott fifth, alongside his great hero and mentor Martin Pipe, while he is ahead of such luminaries as Fred Winter, Jonjo O’Neill, Fred Rimell, Tom Dreaper and Vincent O’Brien.
Of course, there are far more opportunities now than most of the aforementioned had but Elliott only celebrated his 45th birthday at the beginning of the month and recorded his first triumph in 2011.
Compare that to Nicky Henderson, whose 72 winners have been accumulated since 1985, Paul Nicholls, who saddled the first of his 46 in 1999, or even Willie Mullins, whose record tally of 88 has been 27 years in the making, so it’s fair to say he is tracking to be one of the all-time greats.
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A Gold Cup winner with Don Cossack in 2016 and two-time leading trainer at the festival, it says much for the standards set by Elliott that some of the discussion in the wake of the 2022 festival centered on a disappointing return of two winners.
Yet the horses ran well, as evidenced by the six runner-up finishes as well as the heartbreaking fate of Ginto, who broke down when seemingly galloping all over the opposition turning for home in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle.
The Meath handler is back with a team the envy of just about everyone except Mullins, though you can be sure the champion wouldn’t mind a Mighty Potter, Teahupoo or Gerri Colombe in his ranks, to name just a few.
Elliott is 8/1 to be leading trainer again this year and we have sifted through the markets for just some of his main contenders for glory in 2023.
Mighty Potter Holds All The Aces
Mighty Potter has held high rank among novice chasers from the time he hosed up in the Drinmore Chase at Fairyhouse.
He was even better in bagging the fourth Grade 1 of his nascent career at the Dublin Racing Festival, leaving the cream of the Irish crop well in his wake as the returning Davy Russell having to do little more than shake the reins as he sprinted away after the last.
Russell was in front early enough on both occasions but as he said in Leopardstown, when the horse travels so well and you are taking countless pulls through a race, there comes a time when you have to stop disappointing him.
Having won two Grade 1s as a novice hurdler despite clearly only marking time over the smaller obstacles, it is clear that the Caldwell Construction-owned giant has class as well as scope. Truth be told, he has still to fill into his frame.
Appreciate It is a very worthy rival in Thursday’s Turners Novice Chase at 4/1, while previous course and distance winner Banbridge is 7/2.
However, the general 5/4 about Mighty Potter on horse racing betting sites is not unfair for a horse that could well join Don Cossack as a Gordon Elliott-trained Gold Cup winner in time.
Teahupoo To Make Waves?
The Stayers’ Hurdle is the Thursday feature and Teahupoo, named after one of the most famous surfing sites on the planet, has been towards the top of the market since winning the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle on very testing ground last December.
That was over two and a half miles, but it’s sensational form, with dual Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle suffering her first defeat in third and multiple Grade 1 victor Klassical Dream, who will be a major challenger again (11/1) a close second.
He wasn’t as impressive when winning the Galmoy Hurdle at odds-on in Gowran Park last January but that was Davy Russell’s first time riding him and he learned what Jack Kennedy knew, that this is not a horse who does much when hitting the front.
The Youghal master will be leaving it later in a very open contest, for which Ladbrokes have the Robcour-owned six-year-old as a 4/1 second favourite - with Blazing Khal at 3/1 and three-in-a-row chasing Flooring Porter 6/1 in the prices.
The easing ground only adds to his attractiveness in a very open contest, although Elliott has played down the importance of the going.
That’s because he believes that his charge was run off his feet in the Champion Hurdle last year because two miles was too short, rather than the ground too quick and it seems he has the best of both worlds now.
Rain Comes In Time For Gerri Colombe
It has been a similar argument from Elliott about the ideal conditions for his staying chaser Gerri Colombe, believing that the step up to three miles for the Brown Advisory Novices Chase on Friday.
BetVictor are offering him as the 6/4 favourite and Elliott had said in the past that it couldn’t be soft enough for the seven-year-old, but he has changed his mind as the horse has matured.
Given how well he acts in testing going though, it is hard to think he would relish it quick, which it looked like being until last week.
But the rain has come and the dual Grade 1 winner this year over the intermediate distance, is a worthy favourite.
The Scilly Isles triumph at Sandown proved his good attitude and it is notable that Jordan Gainford, who has formed such a good relationship with the unbeaten Saddle Maker seven-year-old, is given the ride.
The Real Whacker (9/2) looks a very dangerous rival presuming he isn’t pitched in by Paddy Neville into the Gold Cup.
Criss-Cross The Cullentra Couple
Last year, Delta Work reeled in nation’s favourite and stablemate Tiger Roll in the Cross-Country Chase, but we were given that wonderful moment of the two being cheered into the parade ring side by side.
The rain came for the winner that morning, much to the dismay of Tiger supporters and it might be something similar with the defending champion and his nearest rival this time Galvin, who is also prepped by Elliott.
Delta Work is 6/5 to do the business once more, but that Galvin is best-priced 2/1 with Parimatch is notable, given his inexperience over this unique test.
He is reported to have schooled very well over the various obstacles though after having a back issue solved and ran a very good race in last year’s Gold Cup. He could be the class angle but would have preferred it drier.
And The Rest
The fact of the matter is that Elliott has leading players everywhere. Conflated is a dual Grade 1-winning chaser at open level and you’ll find 12/1 about the Gigginstown-owned gelding winning the festival showpiece.
BoyleSports make it 9/2 on Three Card Brag succeeding in the Albert Bartlett the same day, with Favori De Champdou a general 10/1 in the market.
Cool Survivor might be very interesting in the Martin Pipe at 7/1 given his years working in Pond House, this is a race Elliott likes to win.
Thursday could be a red-letter day for Cullentra, as Maxuum looks tasty at 8/1 in the Pertemps with William Hill, who go 12/1 about Better Days Ahead in the Champion Bumper.
Meanwhile, the 20/1 available on Doctor Bravo winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is very enticing.
This is a horse that still has plenty of upside and his third place finish in open company, right on the tails of Fil Dor and Sharjah puts him in with a real chance here. It looks one of the each-way bets of the meeting if he copes with the occasion.
And 16/1 with betting apps could look generous about Rivière D’etel in the Mares’ Chase if, as Elliott has declared, she is now back working to a high level having had a physical issue fixed that her slide in form could be attributed to.
You really could go on and on with the Meath man’s chances!
Willie Mullins is the man with the most firepower but if Gordon Elliott doesn’t land a few blows, it will come as a major surprise.
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