Betfair Ambassador Gordon Elliott has no less than 11 runners on Cheltenham Gold Cup Friday, here he gives his verdict on all of their chances as well as his best chance of the day...
"Farclas has really impressed me since joining us, he's not overly big but is a really nice gutsy sort. He now has two very promising runs on Irish soil behind him, the most recent of which was a narrow defeat in the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown"
Gutsy Farclas can put in a big run
13:30 Triumph Hurdle - Farclas
Farclas has really impressed me since joining us, he's not overly big but is a really nice gutsy sort. He now has two very promising runs on Irish soil behind him, the most recent of which was a narrow defeat in the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown where he finished just 1.25L behind the Willie Mullins trained Mr Ajudicator. I think he will improve huge amounts as time goes on and he is an exciting prospect. We have put a tongue tie on him here for the first time just as I think it will help him and I am expecting a big run.
Duca De Thaix our main County hope
14:10 County Hurdle - Ben Dundee / Duca De Thaix / Brelade
Ben Dundee was slightly disappointing at Leopardstown last month but he is a really nice young horse who is pleasing at home. I was happy with how he ran on his penultimate start to finish second to the Henry De Bromhead trained Trainwreck. He would need to step it up here today to win this but he will enjoy the conditions and I don't see why he couldn't sneak into the placings if things go right for him.
Duca De Thaix was a little disappointing at Naas last month in the Limestone Lad Grade 3, although it wasn't a terrible run we had fancied a better performance because prior to that he had been impressive on his second start for us to win a Grade 3 in testing conditions at Limerick. I would think he has the upper hand of our three runners, he'll enjoy the ground and I'm looking forward to a big run.
Brelade ran well here last year in the Neptune but heads here this year a stronger individual, he has run well this season and is nicely consistent, he would prefer better ground but he's a nice sort who I am sure we'll see a good performance from and I think we are well represented by our three runners in this.
Dortmund expected to give good account under Davy
14:50 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle - Dortmund Park
Dortmund Park redeemed himself after his first start for the yard which was a little disappointing based on his homework and his French form, he has gone on to register two wins since - one of which was an impressive 16L victory ahead of Burrows Saint. He's a horse I really like and while he would need to improve a good bit to win this I anticipate a good run in the hands of Davy Russell; he's also had a wind-op after his last run.
Outlander can put last year's run behind him
15:30 Cheltenham Gold Cup - Outlander
Outlander has been doing plenty of extracurricular activities this season, he has been hunting, showjumping and cross country schooling with Emily MacMahon to sweeten him up and have him in optimum form for this. He had surgery on a kissing spine last year and I think his jumping has improved since - his run in this last year was very disappointing, his jumping let him down so I hope it is problem solved now and with how he is in himself lately I am expecting a very different run this time around. Jack Kennedy gets on great with this horse and takes the reins again today.
Cheltenham test will suit Blow By Blow
16:50 - Martin Pipe Hurdle - Blow By Blow / Flawless Escape / Flaxen Flare / Sire Du Berlais
Blow By Blow won well with the addition of blinkers at Thurles last month which he retains here today, I think we saw his true colours that day and I was delighted he got his head back in front. He is a lovely big horse who just does what he has to do at home, nothing flashy. I think he will be well suited to Cheltenham and with the ground the way it's gone he will really enjoy it.
Flawless Escape ran very well in his first handicap at Leopardstown to finish less than 4L behind favourite Total Recall and ahead of stablemate Delta Work. He is a gorgeous big horse who was still quite raw last year but as time goes on he is developing into a very smart individual. He is another who will love the ground here and I am very hopeful of a good run from the five-year-old.
Flaxen Flare is a bit of a yard favourite, he's been with us for years and of course won the Fred Winter for us in 2013 and ran well in the County Hurdle in 2014. His Thyestes run was disappointing but he has a couple of good runs behind him this season. He's got plenty to do here and would need to get back to his best but we know he loves the track and hopefully his experience will go a long way today.
Sire Du Berlais has just had the one run this season, finishing second at Fairyhouse last month in a performance I was happy with. This time last year he finished third to Mick Jazz in a Listed contest at Punchestown showing plenty of promise but then was a little lacklustre on his next outing. He'll need to show a career best here and our other runners go into this with a few runs behind them but he's in great form at home.
Game can be changed on best form
17:30 Grand Annual - The Game Changer
The Game Changer on his best days is very good but on a bad day he can be terrible! His run in this last year was poor and he has been disappointing lately - his last win at Listowel on heavy ground back in September was great, he battled home well to hold on from a strong challenging Ballycasey and I was delighted with the run. Off his best form he absolutely has the ability to be in with a chance here and he's had wind surgery but based on recent form he will need to drastically improve - I would love to see Cheltenham reignite his spark!
**Best Chance of the day: Farclas**