It's going to be another big day of racing for Gordon Elliott on the third day of the Festival, with the Betfair Ambassador saddling Samcro and Apple's Jade among his many runners...
"He's in good form and has been working nicely and he seems back to the sort of form he was in during the autumn so I'm hoping for a big run."
- Gordon Elliott on Samcro
Still some big days left in former Festival winner
13:30 - Samcro
Hopefully we will get a chance to see the real Samcro on Thursday. I know he hasn't gone on to have the career that we all hoped he would when he won here two years ago but I haven't given up on him and I still think there could be some big days in him.
His first run of the season was pleasing and I know it wasn't ideal he fell next time but I still think he showed lots of his old spark that day. Last time out at Limerick I don't think we saw the real Samcro and I wasn't happy with him after the race so we decided to go straight to Cheltenham and I think this is the right race for him.
He's in good form and has been working nicely and he seems back to the sort of form he was in during the autumn so I'm hoping for a big run. I know all the ability is still there and it would be great if he could show that here.
Sire back to defend title and Storyteller has a very big chance
14:10 - Sire Du Berlais & The Storyteller
Sire Du Berlais is back to try and follow up his win in this race last year. It's going to be a lot tougher for him this time under top weight but he's been coming along nicely this season and I'm encouraged by the fact that he has run well on his only two visits to this track. This sort of test suits him well and he should give a good account of himself.
The Storyteller has a good chance. Earlier in the season we decided to try him back over hurdles as he is still open to progress in this sphere and the form of his last two runs over hurdles stacks up well. This race has been his target this season and I couldn't be much happier with him so I'd be putting him up as having a very solid chance. I'd be disappointed if he didn't at least reach the frame.
Good course form but she has her work cut out
14:50 - Shattered Love
I was delighted with her run in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran where she showed something like her true form. On her day she is a very good mare and the more I see of her the more I believe that this is her ideal trip. In truth I think she's got her work cut out for her as she has a lot to find on ratings but she has good course form and seems to be in a very good place at the moment so I hope she will represent us well.
Mare of a lifetime owes us nothing
15:30 - Apple's Jade
Over the last few years she has been an incredible mare for us and I really couldn't have asked for any more from her. She's been amazing and it would be lovely to think that she could run a big race here but I couldn't put her forward with huge confidence.
This season she just hasn't had the same spark as she used to and maybe all those great efforts from the front are starting to catch up with her. She's looking great and we've mixed up her routine quite a bit and done lots of different things with her so hopefully that might spark her into running a big race. As well as that she is wearing blinkers for the first time.
I've no doubt that the Apple's Jade of old would have every chance but she just doesn't seem to be as good as she was. This could well be her final start but we won't make a decision on that until we see how she runs and whatever happens she has been the mare of a lifetime.
Both have ability to run big races
16:10 - Death Duty & Ben Dundee
Death Duty spent a long time off with injury prior to returning to action over hurdles in January. He needed that run and got quite tired over the last half mile and I was expecting him to need his second run back in the Red Mills Chase and he ran like it too. It's been a long road back for him and he's gradually getting there but ideally I'd have liked to get another run into him before this. He was a Grade 1 winner over hurdles and fences and I still think there are good races to be won with him so I think he could run with credit.
Ben Dundee will be making his third appearance at Cheltenham. He ran respectably in the County Hurdle two years ago and last year he ran a decent race in the novice handicap chase when he was third to A Plus Tard. Over time we've discovered that he is best fresh so it was always the plan to come straight here after his run at Christmas and he's in good shape. On his day he is a talented sort and I think there is a big handicap to be with him over fences so I could see him running a big race. He can make the odd mistake in his races but a good of jumping will see him closely involved.
Expecting a big run from Ard Abhainn
16:50 - Ard Abhainn & Mount Ida
Ard Abhainn is a smart mare who has progressed nicely with racing this season and I was delighted with the form she showed to win a Listed novice hurdle at Thurles a few months ago. She's a mare that stays well and will be at her best over further than two miles so I was very pleased that she was able to win around Thurles and I think the two miles on this track will suit her very well. She's very well and has had a nice break since her last run and I'm expecting her to run a big race.
Mount Ida didn't run any sort of race at Fairyhouse on New Year's Day. That run was just too bad to be true so I'm happy to draw a line through that and we felt the best course of action was to freshen her up and aim for this race. She will have to improve a lot on her last run but her previous second to Minella Melody was a really good effort and that would put her into the reckoning. Possibly she was just feeling the effects of that run when she lined up at Fairyhouse and I feel she has a better chance than her odds suggest.
Milan can run a big race
17:30 - Milan Native
He has yet to win over fences but has run some nice races in good beginners' chases over the course of the season and I think he has a very solid each-way chance. Last time out he produced a solid run on terrible ground at Gowran to finish second to a decent horse of Henry de Bromhead's in Spyglass Hill. The ground won't be as testing here and that will suit him and he is a horse that stays well so this trip should be right up his street. He has a good jockey on board in Rob James and his seven pounds claim will be a help so I think there are a number of things that point to a big run from this horse.
Best Chance - Samcro (13:30)