Gordon Elliott Cheltenham Team
Gordon Elliott’s training career started in the best possible when Silver Birch won the 2007 Grand National and, having progressed every season since, he achieved something even the mighty Willie Mullins has yet to manage in winning last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.
That momentous victory for the now retired Don Cossack saw an influx of more Gigginstown owned horses and, as he currently leads the might Willie Mullins in this season’s Irish Trainer’s Championship, we decided to find out which horses in Gordon Elliott’s 2017 Cheltenham Festival Team are likely to add to his tally of 8 Cheltenham Festival winners.
Having lowered the colours of the previously unbeaten Vroum Vroum Mag earlier in the season, she was made favourite for the Mares Hurdle. However, a recent defeat by Limini has seen her odds lengthen. She might have needed that run though, and Brian Cooper made far too much use of early in the race. Good ground and a fast pace would suit her well at Cheltenham, and she must have a great chance.
Gordon Elliott has won two of the last 6 Coral Cups with Carlito Brigante and Diamond King, and he thinks this year’s race will be an ideal test Automated, who was seen passing plenty of horses to good effect when winning at Navan.
The Albert Bartlett is his aim, and it’s no surprise that he’s a short-priced favourite after the authority of his victories this season. A big strapping horse who should be even better over a fence next season, he’s probably Elliott’s banker of the Festival.
Won last year’s Coral Cup with his head in his chest and, granted good ground, he’ll surely go very close in this year’s Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase.
Has gone well at the last 3 Cheltenham Festivals, winning a handicap hurdle and an RSA Chase, and finishing third in last season’s Gold Cup. Taken out of the Grand National by connections this week, and has an each-way chance in the Gold Cup.
Empire Of Dirt
Hacked-up off a much lower mark in a handicap chase at last year’s Festival, and set to return to Cheltenham in the Ryanair Chase in a bid to give his owner a first win in the race he sponsors. Must have a good chance after finishing second in the Irish Gold Cup, but this season’s Ryan Air could be a hot renewal.
This strong traveller could revel in the County Hurdle, and he’s improving al the time.
Finished second in a Martin Pipe Hurdle, and was going well in last season’s National Hunt Chase. Won since in Ireland, but could still be reasonably handicapped if he bids to win the Ultima Chase.
This season’s Lexus Chase winner hasn’t fared too well at previous Cheltenham Festivals, and perhaps saves his best for Leopardston. Fourth favourite for the Gold Cup, but may be many people’s idea of a lay come the big day.
Won a Triumph Hurdle and his sights this year are set on the National Hunt Chase. Must have good ground to be seen at his best, and could be interesting if he gets it.
A late mover in the Champion Hurdle market after he beat Jezki last time out. Needs to be supplemented for the big race, and interesting that Champion Hurdle third-favourite Petit Mouchoir finished behind him in the Supreme Novices Hurdle last season.