Betfair Ambassador Gordon Elliott has eight runners in action at Down Royal on Friday, as well as Envoi Allen, and here he discusses their chances...
"He is taking a fair step up in class as he takes on three previous winners but I think he will be able to hold his own at this level."
Promising pair could both be in contention
12:40 - Farouk D'alene & Grangeclare Native
Farouk D'Alene is a horse with a lot of potential. I was delighted with what he showed last season to win both his starts in bumpers and I thought his win at Naas against a very good horse of Joseph O'Brien's was a really nice performance. I'd hope that he will make up into a classy staying novice hurdler this season. He has schooled well and I'm hoping he will take beating here although he is going to need this run.
Grangeclare Native is a nice type too. He looked to be doing everything right until falling on his hurdling debut at Gowran at the start of the month and it shouldn't take him long to win a maiden hurdle this season. He has come forward since Gowran and has schooled well at home since then so that fall doesn't look to have knocked his confidence. He should run well.
Expect improvement from exciting mare
13:15 - Queens Brook
She is an exciting mare and I'm hoping she will make up into a high class novice hurdler over the coming months. I know she looked like she was all out to win on her hurdling debut at Fairyhouse a few weeks ago but she would have needed that run badly. Ideally I'd have preferred another week or two before running her but I wanted to get some experience into her ahead of this race. She is going to have to step forward from Fairyhouse and she is taking on some smart mares here but I'm expecting major improvement from her comeback run.
Working well and should go close
13:50 - Abacadabras
He was one of our best novice hurdlers last season when he enjoyed a really good time of things and was maybe a shade unlucky not to win at Cheltenham given how the race panned out. He's in great form and the hope is that he could make up into a Champion Hurdle horse by the time that March comes around. He is working well and I couldn't be happier with him but, like all of mine, he is going to improve for this first run of the season. On last season's form he is the one to beat and if he runs to his best he should go close.
Needs a couple of runs to get back to his best
15:00 - Moratorium
Moratorium, who runs in the same race as Envoi Allen, progressed into a reasonable staying novice hurdler a couple of seasons ago but then picked up an injury which meant he had to sit out last season. He is as fit as I can get him at home but there is no substitute for a run and it might just take him a couple of runs to get back to the level he was at a couple of seasons ago. He jumps well and stays well and will move up in trip in time.
Time for Timoteo to rediscover his best
15:35 - Timoteo & Diamond Turf
It will be interesting to see how Timoteo gets on after we bought him during the summer. He wasn't at his best on his last couple of runs in England but prior to those two runs he looked a nice type and I'm hoping he is a horse that might develop into one for some of the decent handicap chases in Ireland over the coming months. He is in good shape but ideally I would have liked to get a run into him before this. He should come on for this outing.
Diamond Turf needed his first run of the season at Galway earlier this month and I thought he ran well enough until he got tired. He is quite a versatile horse in terms of trip and maybe he wants a bit further to be seen at his best but he showed up well in a decent two-and-a-quarter miles handicap chase at Gowran last March and that sort of form gives him a live chance.
Lovely horse should be involved at the finish
16:10 - Chemical Energy
He was showing the right signs at home going to Roscommon and I thought he won very nicely that day. He is taking a fair step up in class as he takes on three previous winners but I think he will be able to hold his own at this level. He's a lovely horse and looks to have improved plenty from Roscommon so I'm hoping he will be right there at the finish.