Betfair Ambassador Gordon Elliott discusses his runners at Punchestown and Cork on Sunday, as well as selecting his best chance of the afternoon...
My best chance of Sunday: 15:40 - Santana Plessis
"On his only run last season he acquitted himself well to finish third in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper and I was delighted, as I felt that he would be a much better horse after another summer. He's in good form and going nicely at home and I hope he will be able to play a leading role here."
Count Simon returns refreshed
12:20 - Count Simon
He ran some decent races during the summer, including when chasing home Easy Game in a novice hurdle at Galway. His last run was probably a bridge too far so he got a nice break after that and is now ready to start back. Since he first came to us he's a horse that has shown plenty of promise and I do think that he can better the form that he has shown so far although he might just need this run.
Diamond Turf set to shine with sharper run?
12:55 - Diamond Turf
He has his second run over hurdles in a two-and-a-half mile maiden and I'm hoping to see an improvement on his reappearance at Down Royal last month. He would have needed his comeback run, the ground was quick enough for him and he didn't jump well enough either against a smart horse of Noel Meade's (First Approach). I'd be hoping for a sharper display here and he should give a good account of himself although he would still prefer slower ground than he is going to get here. I would say this does look a very hot maiden hurdle.
Grotesque makes step up
13:25 - Grotesque
He looked a promising horse earlier in his career but he is going to have to improve considerably if he is to match the form he showed in bumpers several seasons ago. On his first start for the yard he ran respectably at this track last week before fading out of contention after the second last. That was his first run since January so he should improve from that. But he will need to now that he is stepping into handicap company.
Shattered Love can go well here
14:00 - Shattered Love
I'm looking forward to seeing Shattered Love back in action. She's been working well over the last few weeks and she's showing me that she is at least as good as she was last season when she beat the geldings twice at Grade 1 level. I was pleased with her reappearance second to Snow Falcon at Down Royal, as she would have needed the run and she acquitted herself well against a classy race fit rival. Three miles won't be any problem to her this season, but some of her best form is at this trip which is why this race has been her aim since she made her comeback. She is very well and I'm expecting a good showing from her.
The Storyteller is best watched here
14:00 - The Storyteller
The Storyteller did brilliantly for us last season when won at Cheltenham and he also picked up a fortuitous Grade 1 win at this track in April. He finished over ten lengths behind Shattered Love at Down Royal when he would have needed the run quite badly and I'm interested to see how he gets on here, as it should tell us what direction we need to take with him for the rest of the season. He's got a bit to find with a few of these and I think a longer trip may suit him better so he may be best watched.
Mitchouka can make confidence-boosting return
14:30 - Mitchouka
I hold my hands up with regards Mitchouka's last run. In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do run him back in a Grade 3 after his last fence fall at Gowran and you could see from early on that Gowran fall had knocked his confidence a bit. As a result he's been given plenty of time and he has schooled well at home lately and looks back to himself.
Up until the time that he fell at Gowran, I was delighted with how he jumped and I'm still hoping that he can make up into a decent novice chaser this season, as he should be able to make good use of his age allowance. I'm hoping for a nice confidence boosting round and he'll progress well from here.
Santana Plessis set for leading role
15:40 - Santana Plessis
I'm hoping he'll give a good account of himself in the four-year-old bumper. On his only run last season he acquitted himself well to finish third in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper and I was delighted with his run there as I felt that he would be a much better horse after another summer. He's in good form and going nicely at home and I'd hope on the form of his sole outing to date that he will be able to play a leading role here.
We'll learn a lot about Viscount Wilson here
12:05 - Viscount Wilson
He has struggled in his four runs since coming to us, although I do think that he will appreciate switching to soft ground. Hopefully he will run a respectable race and this run will tell us whether we can continue running him in juvenile hurdles or whether we need to look at going down the handicap route in the new year.
Getaway John can go better
12:40 - Getaway John
I'm expecting improvement from him on his second run over hurdles. He was a smart horse in bumpers last season and I'm hoping he will prove just as good as a novice hurdler. When he ran at this track last month he needed the run quite badly and got very tired but I'm expecting he will do better this time. He has certainly improved for that recent run and he will have sharpened up for that first experience over hurdles.
Elwood is in good heart
13:10 - Elwood
He was well held when falling behind Robin De Carlow over this course and distance last month but he should do better this time. After he came from France, we went quite gently with him and, as a result, he would have needed his first run quite badly. He's been in good heart since then and definitely looks to have improved so hopefully he can hold his own here. I'm hoping he will progress well over staying trips just like his half-brother Delta Work did last season.
A Toi Phil read to acquit himself well
13:45 - A Toi Phil
Everybody looks to be up against it with Great Field being in the line up but hopefully our two will acquit themselves well. A Toi Phil ended last season with an excellent run in a Grade 1 over this trip at Punchestown but he hasn't matched those heights in two runs this season. A switch to slow ground and a drop back to this trip could work in his favour and on a going day I know that he could give a good account of himself so hopefully he will step forward on his recent form.
Doctor Phoenix will prefer this distance
13:45 - Doctor Phoenix
Doctor Phoenix faded out of contention over the last half mile of the Clonmel Oil Chase. On his first run back he probably found the two-and-a-half miles of that race too and the drop to two miles here should be more suitable. Over the course of last season he made up into a quality graded chaser at this trip and he ran very well behind Great Field at Navan last March. If he could return to that level he will run well.
Lackaneen Leader will be able to build on this experience
14:15 - Lackaneen Leader
She will start out over fences in what looks quite a competitive edition of this Grade 3. I was pleased with her reappearance run over hurdles at Punchestown last month and I think we will see her progress well from that outing. Today's test probably isn't ideal in that the trip is short of her best and she is taking on mares with previous chasing experience. I'm just anxious to start getting some chasing experience into her as I'm hoping she will be able to hold her own in some of those quality mares chases in the New Year.
Will Serious Ego produce a run to match his name?
15:20 - Serious Ego
I thought he would have won a handicap before now but he's kept us guessing a little bit as to what his best trip is. He ran quite well at Thurles last week but just found two miles a little on the sharp side and I think a step up to two-and-a-half miles at a flat track like this could be ideal for him. He jumps and travels well and those qualities should stand him in good stead for this test. I'm expecting him to run well.
Best Chance - Santana Plessis (15:40 at Punchestown)