Betfair Ambassador Gordon Elliott discusses his 12 runners at Downpatrick on Sunday and picks his best chance of the afternoon...
"Ballyadam - my best chance of the afternoon - looked a cracking prospect when he won his point-to-point and he’s pleased me since he came into the yard."
The Very Man could go close
14:10 - Road To Dubai, Texard & The Very Man
Road To Dubai will need this run as it will be his first since late September. He showed a useful level of form earlier in the season and I wouldn't be surprised to see him run well although his lack of a recent run could catch him out. I was disappointed that he was beaten in a conditions race over this course and distance in August but the horse that beat him that day turned out to be Darver Star so he probably ran well to get to within nine lengths of him.
Texard progressed with his first few runs for us and won a rated novice hurdle in good style at Cork a few months ago. He didn't build on that next time when he ran quite disappointingly at Thurles but it might just have been one run too many too soon for him. We have backed off him and freshened him up since then and he looks to be in good shape so I think he could run well.
The Very Man got his turn over hurdles at Naas a couple of weeks ago and he deserved to following some good runs over the course of the season. He is a decent horse on his day and he is rated to win more races over hurdles so I think he could go close here. My only concern would be that this run isn't coming too soon after Naas as I do still wonder if he is a horse who is best with his runs well spaced out.
Return to form would put him in contention
14:40 - Hell On Earth
He will need to improve on his last run at Gowran where he was a respectable fifth but prior to that he was only just touched off in a handicap at Fairyhouse over two-and-a-half miles and if he can return to that form he would have a solid chance. I think there are a few races to be won with this horse so I wouldn't give up on him after his last run.
At least three of my six have a good chance
15:10 - Gun Digger, General Principle, Cheb De Kerviniou, Its All Guesswork, Out Sam and Poormans Hill
It's great to see a race of this value being run at Downpatrick and it's also great to see it being so well supported.
Gun Digger looked to have lost his way totally until winning a €50,000 handicap chase at Leopardstown a couple of weeks ago when Gavin Brouder knocked a great tune out of him. Gavin is again on board today and I'd like to think Gun Digger could cope with a seven pounds rise in the weights. I always thought he would come into his own beyond three miles so if he turns up in the sort of form he was in last time he must have a good chance.
General Principle is coming back to himself and he followed up a decent run in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown with another good showing in the Leinster National a couple of weeks ago. He seems very well at the moment and either of those last two runs would give him a chance.
Cheb De Kerviniou must have a good chance. He comes here off placings in a pair of €100,000 handicaps and he ran really well to take second in the Leinster National at Naas a couple of weeks ago. He is a grand, honest stayer who deserves to win a big prize and he would look to have a very good chance.
Its All Guesswork has struggled for form lately but he might just run better than his recent form figures would suggest. He badly needed his comeback run at Warwick and I thought his latest run in a Pertemps Qualifier at Punchestown was an improvement. He is a strong stayer who likes decent ground and there could still be a nice race to be won with him over fences.
Out Sam ran respectably to finish third in the cross country at Cheltenham last week and he's come out of that race in good form so we've decided to let him take his chance. He ran well in this race a couple of years ago and hopefully he could run another solid race this time.
Poormans Hill lost his way last year so we just decided to back off him and give him loads of time to come back to himself. He seems well and his work suggests that he is ready to start back so we have decided to bring him back in a race he won two years ago. He is going to find this a tough enough starting point but he likes this track and this is such a good prize it is worth letting him take his chance here.
Saving my best chance until last
16:40 - Ballyadam & Fidji Emery
Ballyadam looked a cracking prospect when he won his point-to-point and he's pleased me since he came into the yard. He was showing plenty prior to his debut at Navan and I was hoping he might win that day but it just didn't happen for him. He still ran well to be beaten just over two lengths into third and the winner has since run creditably at Cheltenham while the runner-up won a bumper next time so that form looks solid. That first run on the track should have taught him plenty so I'm hoping he will take beating.
Fidji Emery is a well related horse but he has struggled badly on his two runs so far. I think he is better than he has shown so far but he is going to have to take a major step forward to get involved. He is best watched for the moment.
Gordon's Best Chance on Sunday - Ballyadam (16:40)
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