Gordon Elliott returns for day two of the Cheltenham Festival with 13 runners throughout Wednesday's busy schedule. See how he hopes to get on...
"I thought he would need his run at Navan and I didn't expect him to beat some quality hurdlers that day so for him to produce the performance that he did was quite incredible. I do think that he will be hard to beat." - Best Chance - Tiger Roll (16:10)
Battleoverdoyen may suprise
13:30 - Battleoverdoyen and Galvin
Battleoverdoyen is in great shape and his preparation for this has gone well. He's a fine, big horse who is really going to come into his own as a chaser but he's come a long way in just three runs this season and I was quite impressed with him when he won a Grade 1 at Naas at Naas a couple of months ago on just his second run over hurdles. The trip will be fine for him and he is quite an agile horse so the track should be fine for him too.
As he had three quick runs earlier in the season we felt it was best to freshen him up and come straight here and I think he's done well for that break. I suppose his inexperience is a potential concern as ideally you'd prefer to have another run over hurdles ahead of a race like this but he's as well as I can have him and I wouldn't swap him for anything else in the race.
Galvin is a nice horse who has had a fine season so far, winning two bumpers and his three starts over hurdles. He's going to have to improve on the form he showed to win at Ayr last time but I think he will definitely progress for the step up to this trip and I thought his previous win at Navan suggested that he would be able to hold his own in graded company before the end of the season. This is a huge step in class for him but he's an improving horse who we have yet to see the best of and I'm hoping he will give a good account of himself.
Expect him to relish the ground and trip
14:10 - Delta Work
He's one of our big hopes for the week and I've been thrilled with how he has taken to fences this season. He's already won a pair of Grade 1s and I thought he did very well to beat Le Richebourg in the Drinmore over two and a half miles at Fairyhouse in early December. He then followed up at Leopardstown over Christmas and he won well in the end that day having laboured a little bit early on and I just thought the ground at Leopardstown might have been a shade quick for him.
The ground won't be at all as quick here so that should help him and he will relish every yard of this trip. He also showed his liking for this track when he won the Pertemps Final last year so all things considered he ticks a lot of boxes and he's just a very straight forward, uncomplicated horse who looks to be lining up a great chance. The fact he hasn't run since Christmas isn't a concern.
Big runs needed
14:50 - Farclas, Diamond Cauchois and Cracking Smart
We run three here and on the face of things all of them look to have their work cut out but I wouldn't be surprised if one or two of them get involved.
Things haven't worked out for Farclas since he won the Triumph at last year's Festival. He is without a win since then and he just hasn't reached the heights of last season. His last run at Gowran was quite disappointing but before that I thought that he ran respectably in the Irish Champion Hurdle and he also ran reasonably behind Apple's Jade in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle.
I think the switch to handicap company will suit him as will the step up to this trip and I've been pleased with his last couple of bits of work so I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him run big race.
Diamond Cauchois has not been well served by the dry winter. He loves soft ground but he just hasn't had his ground for any of his intended targets this year which means that this will be his first run over hurdles since the Punchestown Festival last April. He's in good shape and he is a classy sort at his best so we decided to take a chance and declare him in the hope that we get a nice drop of rain between now and Wednesday afternoon. Ideally he wants a longer trip but if the ground does ease I could see him running with credit.
Cracking Smart was shaping up to be a high class novice hurdler last season but he had to miss last year's Festival owing to a late setback and he was late getting going this season as he was treated for a kissing spine. He surprised me with how badly he needed his first run back at Christmas and he did progress well from that run to finish a respectable third in the Boyne Hurdle last month. Even so, that form leaves him short of the level he will need to perform to if he is to play a leading role but he will progress again from Navan and I haven't lost faith in him as I know he is going to keep progressing until the end of the season.
Tiger Roll holds the key
16:10 - Bless The Wings and Tiger Roll
We run two great favourites of the yard here and there's not much more that can be said about Tiger Roll. He is the most amazing little horse and we've been looking forward to getting him back for this race since the start of the season. He's in great shape and just seems to come alive when he gets to Cheltenham so I was over the moon with his last run at Navan where he won the Boyne Hurdle. I thought he would need his run at Navan and I didn't expect him to beat some quality hurdlers that day so for him to produce the performance that he did was quite incredible. I do think that he will be hard to beat.
Bless The Wings is a fantastic old horse who has been placed at the Festival on three occasions and on his day he is a very smart cross country performer. He's had his season based around coming back here for this meeting before having another crack at one of the Nationals and he seems very well in himself. Even though he's in the twilight of his career he still retains all his old enthusiasm and appetite for racing and I think that he will run his usual solid race.
Chief Justice looking for good ground
16:50 - Chief Justice, Coko Beach and Lethal Steps
This has been a lucky race for us in the past and I think we have some very solid contenders for the race this year. Chief Justice did very well through the autumn and the early part of the winter when he performed to a good standard in graded races. He struggled at Grade 1 level last time but I would say that was a very smart race and he should do better back in this company. On the pick of his form he is a very solid contender but I would be concerned if the ground did ease significantly as he probably wants good ground to be at his best.
Coko Beach is an interesting horse. He came to us from France and at home he works like a very smart horse but we haven't seen it on the track yet. He struggled at Grade 2 level at Christmas and last time out he was no match for Band Of Outlaws but he is at least seven pounds better off with that horse this time. There is more to come from him and I think he is a horse with a decent future so hopefully he will take a step in the right direction.
Lethal Steps could run well. He has taken a little time to find his feet over hurdles and his first run over jumps was quite disappointing. However, I thought that his next two runs were much more encouraging. He's going to have to improve for a race like this but I think a well run handicap hurdle over a stiff two miles will suit him well. If he produces a decent round of jumping he will not be far away - his jumping did cost him at Punchestown last time. He is progressing and thriving all the time and his recent work has been encouraging.
Both should have strong chances
17:30 - Abacadabras and Envoi Allen
We run two very nice horses here and Envoi Allen is a horse with lots of potential. He is a former point-to-pointer and is a lovely chasing prospect for down the road but his raw ability has seen him develop into a high class bumper horse. He's won all three of his starts for us so far and last time out he won a Grade 2 at Leopardstown which was the strongest bumper run in Ireland so far this season. He's in very good form and I'd like to think that he is lining up with a leading chance while I would also feel that he is capable of stepping forward on what he has shown so far.
Abacadabras is interesting as he was running very well behind Envoi Allen at Leopardstown only to go through the rail in the closing stages. What happened in Leopardstown was no one's fault and was just one of things - it's not something that would concern me with regard to this race. If he had stayed in the Leopardstown race he would have run very well and that gives him a chance of getting involved. Also I'd say that there is more to come from him after just two runs.
Best Chance - Tiger Roll (16:10)