It's day two of the Cheltenham Festival and Betfair Ambassador Gordon Elliott is here to discuss all 16 of his runners, including the much fancied Envoi Allen...
"I'm under no illusions that this is the biggest test of Envoi Allen's career but he is as ready as he can be for this and I'm hoping that he is the one they all have to beat."
Envoi Allen is in great shape
Ballymore Novices' Hurdle 13:30 - Easywork and Envoi Allen
I'm very interested to see how Easywork gets on here although this is by far the biggest test of his career. He won his first two outings over hurdles in the style of a very nice novice and then last time out he was a well held second behind Asterion Forlonge in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown.
I think he is better than he showed at Leopardstown where the two miles trip on decent ground was probably too sharp for him. This much longer trip will work in his favour and there is more to come from him over hurdles so I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him show up well. He has an each way shout.
After walking the course on Sunday morning I was happy to commit to this race with Envoi Allen. He's in great shape and we have purposely kept him fresh for this race since he won his second Grade 1 over hurdles at Naas in January. By now everybody knows what he has done and he is unbeaten in seven races and I've been thrilled with how he has taken to hurdles.
He is a very slick jumper with a lovely way of doing things and he has answered every question that we have asked of him and more. The fact that he won the bumper here last season suggests that all the demands of the Cheltenham Festival are fine for him.
He is working well and seems very well in himself and I'm just very happy with how his preparations for this race have gone. I'm under no illusions that this is the biggest test of his career but he is as ready as he can be for this and I'm hoping that he is the one they all have to beat.
Battleoverdoyen can show his great potential here
RSA Chase 14:10 - Battleoverdoyen
This horse didn't deserve to fall at Leopardstown last month as he gave an exhibition of jumping from the front and then just took a tired fall at the last when he was going to finish fourth or fifth. I wasn't sure after that fall if he'd make Cheltenham but he is back in very good shape and working nicely so we are going to let him take his chance here.
He mightn't have convinced everyone so far this season but I have no doubt that he is a high class chaser and I think we have yet to see the best of him over fences. He has taken the journey over to Cheltenham better than last year and has settled in well so I'm hoping for a good run.
He is going to have to improve a fair bit from his last but I do believe that he is better than he got to show there and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him run well. I still think he is a horse with a lot of potential and I just hope he can show that to be the case.
Black Tears will enjoy this trip but other two must improve to be in contention
The Coral Cup 14:50 - Cracking Smart, Coko Beach and Black Tears
Cracking Smart is a very good horse on a going day as he showed when he won the Boyne Hurdle at Navan last month. As a result of that he is going to have to carry plenty of weight here but I don't think that will be a big issue for him and he did run well for a long way in this race last year under a big weight.
As a novice hurdler he was Grade 1 class and, when he puts his best foot forward, he is capable of quality form but he isn't the easiest to catch right. He seems very well and I think that Navan run will have given him plenty of confidence and any rain that falls here over the next day won't be a problem for him. He doesn't have the same room for improvement as some of these but I could still see him running well if he is in the right frame of mind.
Coko Beach was second in the Fred Winter at last year's meeting and I was happy enough with what he showed on his first few runs this season. He was very disappointing at Navan a couple of months ago but he is a very idle horse who just seemed to switch off that day and as a result of that we have fitted him with headgear. That could bring about plenty of progress from him. I couldn't recommend him with huge confidence but he is in good shape and certainly has the ability to run well in a race like this so I wouldn't be shocked to see him run a big race.
Black Tears is a talented mare and is at least as good a mare as Barra who was placed for us in this race a couple of years ago. I think a well run big field handicap will suit her, as she showed when she won a good mares handicap at Leopardstown last month, and she comes here off a good run in a graded event at Punchestown a few weeks ago. Last year she ran very well to finish fourth in the mares novice hurdle at this meeting so we know she handles this track and I think the trip of the Coral Cup is absolutely perfect for her.
Amazing Tiger Roll is still the one to beat
The Cross Country Chase 16:10 - Out Sam and Tiger Roll
Out Sam is a useful stayer on his day but he can be a bit in and out and we switched him to cross country chasing earlier this season which saw him run a good third to Easysland here in November. He is going to have work cut out to be involved off level weights but I know that cross country racing does light him up so hopefully he will run a nice race.
It would be amazing if Tiger Roll were to win this race for the third year in a row. He has been such an amazing horse for us and it's incredible to think that he is back here trying to win at the Cheltenham Festival for the fifth year in succession. This race and the National seem to bring out the best in him and he was so impressive in this last year.
I would say that this year's cross country race contains a bit more strength in depth but he is still the one to beat and I think he has come on a lot from last month's comeback run at Navan. It would mean a huge amount to me if he were to win this race again and the sort of form he has been in at home suggests that he is as well as ever.
Strong quintet can all perform well here
Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle 16:50 - Aramax, Saint D'oroux, Recent Revelations, Tronador & Gealach
Aramax is a nice type and has progressed well with each run since coming to us. He won nicely at Naas last month in a race that Band Of Outlaws won before going to take this last year and I've been happy with him since then. I think he is an unexposed type with more to give and he must have every chance of getting closely involved.
Saint D'oroux took advantage of a good opportunity to win easily on terrible ground last time out. The ground here will be a lot different but he won't have any trouble handling a better surface. It took him longer than I thought to win a maiden this season but he has run plenty of solid races and has picked up plenty of experience so I could see him giving a good account of himself.
Recent Revelations was beaten eight lengths by Aramax last time but I'm not sure the race worked out ideally for him and he didn't deserve to be beaten as far as he was and he did make a bad mistake at the last too. He is a horse who has progressed with racing and could easily do better still and he is another of ours with a very solid each way chance.
Troandor is another with a live chance. He has shown a nice level of form on his three runs over hurdles so far and I was pleased with his third in quite a useful novice hurdle at Navan last time. He is a horse who stays well which is important for this race and he has a similar profile to our 2017 winner Veneer Of Charm. I would say that he is a better horse than Veneer Of Charm and I think there is more to come him over hurdles.
Gealach struggled a little bit on testing ground but when he got on yielding at Punchestown a few months ago he won nicely. I think he is better than he showed in a winner's race at Fairyhouse last time and I wouldn't be shocked to see him involved at the finish. He is another horse of ours who can improve on what he has shown over hurdles so far.
Queens Brook an each-way chance among promising trio
Champion Bumper 17:30 - Eskylane, Darling Daughter & Queens Brook
Eskylane actually finished in front of the favourite, Appreciate It, when he was second in a Fairyhouse bumper on his debut and then he won very nicely at Navan a couple of months. The Navan race mightn't have been the strongest but he won easily and he is a lovely, relaxed type of horse who is improving and strengthening up all the time. He will probably make a better jumper but I could see him running well.
Darling Daughter is an exciting mare with a touch of class. I was happy with her first win at Limerick but she took a big step forward to win a Grade 2 mares bumper at Leopardstown last month when she quickened up very nicely off a slow pace to defeat a decent field. She is going to be taking on geldings for the first time and this will be a new test for her but she is in excellent shape and is capable of a big run.
Queens Brook is a very promising sort. We bought her after her point-to-point success and I was hoping she would win in the manner that she did in a mares' bumper at Gowran last month. That success came on really bad ground but a better surface shouldn't be a problem for her and I do think she is up to holding her own in a high class bumper. Whether she will know enough for a race like this is a concern and possibly it is as a jumper that she will come into her own. But I do think she could run well and I'd put her forward as having a very solid each way chance.
Best Chance - Envoi Allen (13:30)
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