Gordon Elliott looks up admiringly at Gerri Colombe
Gordon Elliott looks up admiringly at Gerri Colombe

Cheltenham Festival Stable Tour: Gordon Elliott chasers


Gordon Elliott is under no illusions about the task facing Gerri Colombe as he bids to turn the tables on the “awesome” Galopin Des Champs in next month’s Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Willie Mullins-trained Galopin Des Champs was a brilliant winner of the race last season and while he was beaten on his next couple of starts, he has roared back to his best with victories in both the Savills Chase and Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

Gerri Colombe, a three-time Grade One-winning novice last term and narrowly denied Festival glory by The Real Whacker, made a successful start to his first campaign in open company in the Champion Chase at Down Royal in November, but was firmly put in his place Galopin Des Champs over the festive period.

And while Elliott is adamant his star stayer was not at his best in the Savills Chase, he acknowledges a 23-length deficit is a huge gap to bridge.

“Gerri Colombe is in good form. I think Galopin Des Champs has been awesome this year, I don’t know how we’re going to beat him, but I think we’re better than we were in Leopardstown the last day,” he said.

“For me he didn’t run his race in the Savills. He wouldn’t have been second I don’t think with another 100 yards. We’ve always counted him as a bit of a mud lover, but I think the better the ground, the better the chance he’ll have.

“He really stays, he’s not flashy and doesn’t do anything fancy, but he looks great and we’ve been training him for one day.”

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The Cullentra handler is preparing to fire a twin assault at the Ryanair Chase, with both Conflated and Fil Dor set to line up.

Conflated was third in the Gold Cup last season, but having unseated Jack Kennedy at the final fence in both the Savills Chase and the Irish Gold Cup this winter, he is set to drop back in distance.

Fil Dor, on the other hand, will step up in trip having finished second behind Dinoblue and star two-miler El Fabiolo in his last two races.

The latter will carry the colours of Robcour for the first time at Cheltenham after being sold to stay in the yard for €620,000 as part of Andy and Gemma Brown’s recent dispersal.

Elliott said: “Conflated has unshipped his jockey the last two runs at the last, but he was actually running a good race both days. He’s a bit of a boyo, he’s got a big engine but there’s been a quirk in him since day one.

“Fil Dor will also go for the Ryanair. He got a fright last year in Leopardstown and he never jumped a fence after it, but his two runs this year I thought were very good. I think a step up in trip will suit him. He has to improve, but he’s going the right way and has an each-way chance.”

Found A Fifty will bid to give Elliott a first ever victory in the Arkle Trophy after being beaten a neck by Il Etait Temps in the Irish equivalent at the Dublin Racing Festival.

“He did nothing wrong in Leopardstown apart from getting beat. He’s maturing the whole time and I thought he was more settled than he was the time before,” Elliott added.

“There is a little kink in him, but he’s got an engine.”

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Zanahiyr, third in last season’s Champion Hurdle, is set to return to Cheltenham for a first run over fences at the meeting in the Turners’ Novices’ Chase.

Elliott understandably has high hopes of landing the Glenfarclas Chase for the sixth time in eight years, with dual winner Delta Work set to be renew rivalry with last year’s runner-up Galvin and Coko Beach a potential third major contender if the ground is soft for the cross-country event.

Hopes are also high for Salvador Ziggy in the National Hunt Chase, while Riviere D’Etel is considered a “big price” by her trainer for the Paddy Power Mares’ Chase.


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