Gordon Elliott at Cheltenham: Dallas Des Pictons should end the Festival on a high
It's the final day of the Cheltenham Festival and Betfair Ambassador Gordon Elliott has a host of runners to tell you about as he aims for a winner on Friday.
"He probably would prefer a longer trip but this race tends to suit horses with plenty of stamina."
Couer Sublime may be a dark horse
13:30 - Authorizo
He's a grand horse who came to us off the flat in France and I was very pleased with his first run for us which saw him win a Fairyhouse maiden hurdle in good style. He didn't build on that next time when he was beaten in a Grade 3 back at Fairyhouse and he's going to have to improve a lot to make his presence felt in a race like this. I've no doubt that he's better than he got to show last time but he's up against it here and he would probably appreciate better ground.
13:30 Coeur Sublime
He might be one who has a better chance than his odds suggest. I'm happy to put a line through his last run as that was just too bad to be true. Before that I think he would have won a Grade 2 at Leopardstown over Christmas only to fall at the last and that run indicated that he was one of the better Irish juveniles. He seems very well at home and I don't think he will mind the soft ground so if he gets back to the form he showed at Christmas he could reach the frame in a race where Sir Erec is going to take some beating.
Mitchouka may be left out but the others should run well
The season hasn't gone to plan for him. He lost his confidence over fences so we have switched him back over hurdles and he struggled in a good handicap at Leopardstown last month. That run leaves him with a lot to do here and I'm just hoping he can get back to where he was last season when he developed into a tough and consistent juvenile hurdler.
14:10 Eclair De Beaufeu
This horse has a chance. He got beaten in a few maiden hurdles but he has progressed well since winning at Limerick in December and I thought he ran very well to finish fourth in a quality handicap at Leopardstown last time. I've been looking forward to moving him up in trip but I think you need a horse that stays well in a County Hurdle so this race could be right up his street. He should run well.
14:10 High Expectations
I thought he ran as well as he has ever done when he was third in a decent handicap hurdle at Leopardstown a few months ago. He finished well from off the pace that day and I'm hoping he could do something similar here. He wouldn't have the same room for progress as some of the others in this race but he's very well and comes here a fresh horse so hopefully he will give a good account of himself.
Big runs expected
14:50 Commander Of Fleet
I'm hoping for a big run from him and he must have a good chance on his last run which saw him win a Grade 1 at Leopardstown over two and three quarter miles. The extra couple of furlongs shouldn't be a problem for him and the ground will be fine too as he won his point-to-point on very testing ground for Pat Doyle. Even though he has already won two good races he is a raw type of horse and a work in progress and I'm hoping that he has enough experience for a race like this which is a fair test of a young horse. I've no doubt that he's got the ability to play a leading role.
He had a great autumn when winning five times over hurdles including a very easy success at this track in October. He was actually going to run very well last time only to be badly hampered at the third last which cost him all chance of getting involved. After that race it was always the plan to give him a break and head to Cheltenham. The fact he has winning course form is a positive and he's a lovely, staying type of horse who should be well suited by this test. He probably wants better ground to be at his best but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him run well.
No illusions with the Gold Cup
15:30 Shattered Love
She's very well and I was pleased to see the rain fall at the start of the week as the ground has been too quick for her for much of the season. When she last ran at Leopardstown the ground was just too fast for her and she came home a little sore. She's been freshened up since then and is in great shape and she also had a wind procedure since she last ran which should also help her.
This is the Gold Cup and I'm under no illusions as to the task that's facing her but I think she's in good shape and she is a former course winner. I've always thought of her as a mare that could run very well in a Gold Cup and hopefully she can prove me right with a big run here.
Should stand a chance in a bigger field
16:10 Ucello Conti
He's done well since switching to hunter chasing and he comes here off wins at Thurles and Navan. As a handicap chaser he showed up well in a host of good handicaps without winning and he still looks to retain all his old ability. A well run race with a good sized field should actually suit him better than the last couple of races that he has contested and I think that he's lining up with a solid chance.
Dallas Des Pictons has the edge
17:30 Dallas Des Pictons
The Martin Pipe is a race that we always try to have good representation in as it's race that means a lot to me. For the last two years I've been lucky enough to win it and I think this horse gives us a strong chance again. He probably would prefer a longer trip but this race tends to suit horses with plenty of stamina. Over the course of the season he has progressed with every run and his win in a quality handicap hurdle at Leopardtown last month sets him up nicely for this. He should be thereabouts.
17:30 Defi Bleu
He is another horse that stays well and he's quite interesting as he is getting back on slow ground which will suit him well. I'd ignore his last run as he was uncomfortable on the quick ground and prior to that he had run some very solid races in defeat against some classy novice hurdlers. His chance wouldn't be as obvious as Dallas Des Pictons but a good run from him wouldn't surprise me at all.
On his last few runs he wouldn't strike you as having an obvious chance but he ran respectably over a trip short of his best last time and before that he would have needed his comeback run at Navan. Last season he was quite a smart novice hurdler and I think he can get back to that level over this trip on slow ground. Conditions are in his favour and he's not one to underestimate.