A busy weekend for Gordon Elliott commences at Punchestown on Saturday where the Betfair Ambassador will saddle 12 runners, and here he gives his exclusive views on them all...
"Mengli Khan had been having a fantastic season with Grade 1 and Grade 3 wins behind him, his main danger today would be the impressive Getabird however our lad has the Graded experience so I feel has the upper hand if everything goes smoothly."
- Gordon Elliott on Mengli Khan
13:00 - Dounikos, Mossback, The Storyteller
Dounikos proved his Gowran Park win was not a fluke at Limerick last time out with an impressive win and career best in a Grade 2 Novice Chase, the ground was perfect for him on the day - although a winner on good ground it seems he loves the mud. He came out of the race in fantastic form and I expect another good run from him today even more so if we get the forecast rain.
Mossback made his seasonal debut a winning one at Naas back in November, he's a big horse who will improve throughout the course of the season and who we will probably see better from over further but he did everything right last time and now with a run behind him he'll come on from that however this is a bigger ask for him.
The Storyteller is a horse I like a lot, he ran very well at Fairyhouse beating favourite and stablemate Sutton Manor last month. Like Mossback, this is a step up for him but he is a really nice sort who I hope will progress well this season and with a clear round I would expect to see a big run from the seven-year-old.
13:35 - Bilko
Bilko steps back up in trip here today which I think will suit, the seven-year-old, although consistent hasn't managed to get his head in front since late 2016 so I hope he can catch a bit of luck today. With plenty of runs behind him this season and everything going well for him at home he has no excuses.
14:10 - Mengli Khan, Hardline
Mengli Khan shocked everyone when running out two out at Leopardstown last month, it was completely out of character for him to do something like that and I hope we never see the likes of it from him again. Prior to that he had been having a fantastic season with Grade 1 and Grade 3 wins behind him, his main danger today would be the impressive Getabird however our lad has the Graded experience so I feel has the upper hand if everything goes smoothly.
Hardline has improved a lot recently and wasn't disgraced when stepping into Graded company on his last two runs, finishing third on both occasions. He has run twice now against Mengli Khan and while he's not quite in his league I still expect a decent run and I certainly wouldn't be surprised to finish close, especially now with a good few runs behind him this season.
14:45 - Ger's Lad, Gun Digger, Warlike Intend, Monition
Ger's Lad makes his race debut at the age of six heading straight over hurdles for this 2m contest, the late bloomer goes nicely at home and schools well so I hope for a nice first run however we'll know much more about him after today.
Gun Digger has run well enough this season over hurdles but there is definitely room for improvement, unlike our other runners in this he benefits from some experience over obstacles so I hope that will work out well for him and I would hope that with the ground slightly better than he has faced so far that may help things along.
Warlike Intent was the impressive 13L winner of his sole Bumper run, he came out of that run in great order and has had some time to freshen up. He has been doing plenty of schooling and jumps well so I'd expect a good run from him today with a clear round on ground that will suit.
Monition is another making his debut straight over hurdles, a half-brother to the classy Champagne Fever I hope he can follow in his footsteps! His homework is pleasing but like any horse making their debut they will come on a huge amount from it and we'll learn plenty about him.
15:20 - Pat's Oscar
Pat's Oscar is an honest mare who has been running well this season, her last win at Perth back in September was over this trip on heavy ground so today looks an ideal opportunity to get her head back in front with Davy Russell in the saddle and I'd be disappointed if she didn't run well.
15:50 - Sweetlight D'oroux
Sweetlight D'oroux was quite disappointing on her only start in a Bumper at Fairyhouse last month however the experience did her good and she has shown some improvement at home, obviously she will need to step up from the last day but with Anthony Fox on board using his valuable 7lb claim I think she has a better chance today.