The Gordon Elliott show at Down Royal gets underway with FAROUK D’ALENE expected to remain unbeaten and gain success at his first attempt over hurdles in this opening staying contest. The five-year-old was an impressive winner of a point-to-point in March last year before winning easily here on his rules debut last December and battling to another bumper win at Naas in February.
Any further rain will be a positive and the long-term plan is the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Elliott has won this race four times in the past five years and an important day for the team will kick-off with victory for Farouk D’Alene, with stablemate Grangeclare Native looking his biggest danger.
There is more of a worry for the Elliott team in this Grade 3 Mares Novices’ Hurdle than the opening race, with both Brave Way and Politesse representing nice opposition to QUEENS BROOK. Brave Way was a fine winner at Kilbeggan and drops in trip for Henry de Bromhead, while the lack of recent racecourse run looks a concern for Lorna Fowler’s dual Thurles winner, Politesse.
Despite making hard work of her victory at Fairyhouse, it’s hard to look past Queens Brook and her Cheltenham bumper third which clearly stands out on form. Several horses have boosted that form since with victories on both sides of the Irish Sea over the past month, she’ll have too much class here too and will remain unbeaten over hurdles.
The Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy show should continue with victory for ABACADABRAS in the feature Grade 2 WKD Hurdle. He’s been a model of consistency for the Gigginstown team and begins a route towards the Champion Hurdle next March in a race Elliott won last year with Coeur Sublime.
His novice form from last season is red-hot, second to stablemate Envoi Allen in the Royal Bond before winning his Grade 1 at Leopardstown over Christmas and finishing second to Shishkin at Cheltenham. He’s rated vastly superior to these rivals on 158 and bar an accident or a dramatic improvement in form from Aspire Tower, Jason The Militant or Sixshooter, it’s another winner for Elliot this Friday afternoon.
The horse made for chasing and our first chance to see the mighty ENVOI ALLEN jump over fences in public under-rules following his latest victory at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Following his point-to-point victory for Colin Bowe his achievements for Cheveley Park and Gordon Elliott have been outstanding with an unbeaten run in bumpers and over hurdles.
Jack Kennedy takes over in the saddle for the injured Davy Russell with a tongue-tie used for the first time today. Elliott has reported good schooling sessions for the six-year-old and if everything goes according to plan he should follow the same route towards Cheltenham as last year’s winner Samcro who went on to win the Marsh Novices’ Chase in March.
The Gordon Elliot Lucky 31 should be complete with CHEMICAL ENERGY securing back-to-back bumper wins under Jamie Codd in the finale on day one at Down Royal. He looks another smart prospect for the Elliott team following his impressive Roscommon success and is an out-and-out chaser down the line.
His homework has been good before his rules debut, with Elliott suggesting he’ll improve plenty again from his debut success. The Cullentra team have won this bumper three times in the previous five years and will do so again with On Eagles Wings and Any Givin Sunday chasing Chemical Energy home.
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