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In-form Elliott looking to light up Leopardstown

29 Nov 2022
Jon Vine 29 Nov 2022
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  • Key quotes from top Irish trainer Gordon Elliott
  • Elliott has been amongst the winners during the first half of the season
  • Read key quotes as he points stars like Fil Dor, Hollow Games and Pied Piper at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival
gordon elliott
Gordon Elliott at Cheltenham Racecourse. (Getty)

We bring you key quotes from Gordon Elliott, who spoke to the Irish Examiner about his horses for the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.

Heading into the Bar One Racing Meeting at Fairyhouse this weekend, few trainers are in better form that Gordon Elliott. Elliott has been striking at around 25% over the past two weeks and the man from County Meath already has his eyes set on a fruitful festival at Leopardstown over Christmas - especially in the novice races.

“It probably looks like we’ve got a good bunch of novice chasers." Elliott told the Irish Examiner on Monday. "We have a few nice novice hurdlers coming on as well, but I’d say we might be a little stronger with the novice chasers at the moment."

Mighty Potter goes for the Drinmore at Fairyhouse this weekend, but he could be one of several talented novice chasers who represents Elliott at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.

“(Mighty Potter) goes to Fairyhouse on Sunday and then on to Leopardstown after that. It’s not confirmed what race he will run in yet, but he is another horse that schooled very well this morning. Jack had a smile on his face after riding him this morning so when he’s happy, I’m happy.

“He’s gone more relaxed this year than he was last year. (At Down Royal) it was job done. There was nothing pretty about it. He had to do all the donkeywork himself and it wasn’t ideal, but that’s why I was keen to get him to Navan this morning for a bit more experience. We think he’s nice.”

The only Grade One race staged on Boxing Day at Leopardstown is the Racing Post Novice Chase, where Elliott could run both Fil Dor and Hollow Games.

“I thought Fil Dor jumped very well (at Navan on Sunday). He was foot perfect, he attacked his fences, and always looked like he was going to be a chaser, the way he jumped his hurdles. I know he made a mistake at the second-last the last day, at Naas, but I thought he was good.

“I’d imagine this race is where he’ll go. It looks perfect timing and is a great race and, after his win on Sunday, he’ll definitely head to Leopardstown. He looks like he’s going to be a better chaser than he was a hurdler. He’s got stronger with a summer’s grass, so we’re looking forward to him.” 

"Hollow Games was in Navan this morning and jumped very well. I might have been running him over the wrong distance last year. I was trying to make him into a stayer as I thought he was a two-six or three-mile horse but the way he ran over two-mile-one at Navan the last day, it just might be his trip. He’ll probably go to Navan on Sunday-week and then on to Leopardstown for this race, all being well.”

Minella Crooner and Gerri Colombe could go toe-to-toe in the Neville Hotels Novices Chase on the fourth and final day at Leopardstown.

"I think three miles will suit Minella Crooner. This will, more than likely, be his target."

“If the ground came up very soft - which I couldn’t see happening - three miles is made for Gerri Colombe. He’s a very good horse. He’s unbeaten so far, so hopefully we’ll keep him going, but the ground is key."

“He’ll handle better ground and if it was the end of the season and it was Cheltenham or Leopardstown or Punchestown, you might have a go, but at this stage of the season we won’t chance him unless there is soft in the ground. He looked very good the last day.” 

Elliott has a handful of talented young horses in mind for the Paddy Power Future Champions’ Novice Hurdle, including Imagine and Irish Point.

“Imagine could go there. He’s a good horse. He might have won (on Saturday in Gowran) if he had jumped the last, but the winner (Inothewayurthinkin) looked very, very smart.” 

"Irish Point looks good, and we like him. He does everything very, very nicely. He has a bit of class, a bit of boot, a bit of speed. He’s a good horse, and hopefully he’ll be lucky for Brian (Acheson, owner) and Robcour.” 

"Amir Kabir was very good in Listowel, and I’d say he’ll probably run in this race. He gave himself a bit of a cut in Listowel and missed a bit of work, and that’s why he won’t run until Leopardstown. He’s a nice horse and I’d imagine he’ll love the ground at Leopardstown.”

"Itswhatunitesus is not easy to train as he’s very highly strung. I’d imagine he’ll go here. It’s a Grade 1, his owner would like to have a runner in Leopardstown, so he’ll probably run here.” 

Zanahiyr and Queens Brook are both likely to step up to three miles for the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle, which has been named in honour of the late Jack De Bromhead. 

Pied Piper will take on State Man and Sharjah in the Matheson Hurdle on day four. Conflated, Galvin and Fury Road are all on-track for the highlight of the meeting, the Savills Chase.

Absolute Notions could be aimed at the Lawlors Of Naas Novices' Hurdle at the start of 2023. Three Stripe Life looks set to be kept over two-and-a-half miles and could go to Limerick on Boxing Day for the Faugheen Novices' Chase.

In other news, American Mike and Riviere D'Etel won't be seen again this side of Christmas after disappointing runs over the weekend. Saint Felicien won't make his chase debut until the New Year, after Elliott revealed the team "haven’t just hit top gear with him yet this season."

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