Gordon Elliott has firmed up plans for some of his crack team of youngsters as the countdown to the Dublin Racing Festival and Cheltenham Festival intensifies.
A potential clash with Appreciate It or James Du Berlais could be on the cards for Mighty Potter after Elliott confirmed that the unbeaten chaser will contest the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Novice Chase over an extended two miles and five furlongs on day two of the Leopardstown weekend.
Caldwell Construction’s triple Grade 1 winner is currently the general 5/2 market leader for next month’s Leopardstown assignment, and no bigger than 3/1 favourite to land the Turners Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
“We’re looking to keep Mighty Potter to around two and a half miles and the plan is to run in the Turners Novices’ Chase,” said Elliott, who has won two of the last five runnings of the that Cheltenham target with Shattered Love (2018) and Samcro (2020).
“He’ll go to the Dublin Racing Festival beforehand where we’ll be aiming him at the Ladbrokes Novice Chase. I thought it was a good performance from him in the Drinmore and we’re looking forward to seeing how he gets on here.”
Unbeaten Guinness Faugheen Novice Chase winner Gerri Colombe remains a possible runner in either the Brown Advisory or National Hunt Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, but where he will line up next appears more definite.
Elliott has suggested a trip to Navan for the Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase on February 12th as a chance for connections to learn more about his Festival credentials. The Robcour-owned seven-year-old is a top-priced 7/1 for the National Hunt Chase and 8/1 for the Brown Advisory.
“It will be one or the other for Gerri Colombe and we’re keeping all options open at the moment,” said the Cullentra trainer.
“We’ve been happy with him since his win over Christmas at Limerick. He might have a run before Cheltenham in the Ten Up at Navan. That would look like a grand race for him.”
Elliott added: “Between Chemical Energy, Minella Crooner and Gerri Colombe, we will have options for the National Hunt Chase.”
Irish could be pointed towards the Supreme
THE Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle has been nominated as the likeliest target at this stage for exciting Royal Bond and Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle runner-up Irish Point, despite being generally shorter in the market for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Robcour’s former Grade 1 AQPS bumper winner holds two entries for the Dublin Racing Festival; the Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle over two miles and six furlongs, and the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle at two miles. His odds range from 10/1 to 25/1 for the Supreme.
Elliott said: “Irish Point is entered for the Dublin Racing Festival so could well go there, or else straight to Cheltenham. He’s done nothing wrong so far, really.
“I’d be tempted to keep him to two miles. The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle would look the likeliest possibility but we’ll keep our options open.”
Last season’s Weatherbys Champion Bumper second American Mike is on track for a tilt at the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle.
“That will be the next target for American Mike,” said Elliott. “We obviously didn’t see the best of him in the Monksfield at Navan but we found an issue with him so hopefully he’s overcome that. You never know until you run them again but, touch wood, he seems well in himself.”
Extremely impressive Leopardstown Pertemps Qualifier winner Maxxum is one of three ante-post favourites trained by Elliott at the Cheltenham Festival, and a tilt at the Pertemps Final could well be the next time we see Patrick Rabbitt’s rapidly-improving six-year-old.
Back-to-back easy wins by nine and 16 lengths on his last two starts have prompted the handicapper to raise Maxxum from a mark of 103 to 138, and he is currently no bigger than 4/1 for his Cheltenham target.
Elliott said: “We gave Maxxum an entry for the Race And Stay Leopardstown Handicap Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival but there’s every chance I’ll keep him to go straight to the Pertemps Final. He’s definitely going the right way.”