Gordon Elliott Stable Tour: Five to follow and dark horses for 2020/21 season

Betfair Ambassador Gordon Elliott
It's set to be another big season for Gordon

Betfair Ambassador Gordon Elliott discusses his leading runners and their targets for the new National Hunt season as well as a few dark horses that could make an impact in 2020/21...

"Abacadabras is a classy horse who looks an out and out two miler and a proper hurdler so for the moment we are going to treat him as a Champion Hurdle horse.

Listen to the stable tour podcast here, and read below for Gordon's in-depth thoughts

He's a horse we always thought a lot of and I couldn't have asked for any more from him last season. He ran a great race against Envoi Allen in the Royal Bond, then won his Grade 1 and finished off with a terrific effort in the Supreme Novices at Cheltenham. That race didn't go totally to plan as he found himself in front earlier than ideal after a bit of carnage at the second last. Even though he was beaten, I liked the way he battled when the winner came to him and there was nothing between them at the line.

He's a classy horse who looks an out and out two miler and a proper hurdler so for the moment we are going to treat him as a Champion Hurdle horse.

That is the path that we are going to try and follow. The races for him between now and March are obvious enough and I'm looking forward to getting him started in the Grade 2 second season hurdle at the big Down Royal meeting. If everything went well there he could go for the Morgiana Hurdle and then on to Leopardstown at Christmas and by then we should have a fair idea where we stand. He has done very well over the summer and looks to have strengthened up a good bit since last year.

He's in great shape and I'm delighted with how he has come back after the summer off. He's strengthened up and matured further and he looks a picture at the moment. We've done some schooling with him already and he looks a natural over fences. As a hurdler he was very slick over his jumps and hopefully it will be the same again this season.

He's a horse with a big profile and I know a lot of people will be anxious as to what his end of season targets will be but we're just going to take it one race at a time with him.

At the moment nothing is set in stone but I would say it is quite likely that he will head to Down Royal at the end of October for a two and a half miles beginner's chase which we won with Samcro last year.

Envoi Allen takes hurdle 1280.jpg

If everything were to go well at Down Royal, I would imagine that he will look to follow a similar route for the season, initially at least, and the Drinmore would look a logical next step after that. It's just great to have a horse like him in the yard and we can't wait to get him going again.

He's one of our best novice hurdling prospects for the coming season.

Overall I was very pleased with what he showed us last season as he looked a horse who would strengthen up and develop with another summer's grass behind him and that is what has happened as he has come back to us looking stronger and more developed. With that in mind I'd hope he could reach a higher level of form than he did last season.

A little bit like Queens Brook the Cheltenham bumper wasn't really in my head for him but he won very easily at Navan in January and there wasn't a whole lot coming up for him so we let him take his chance over there and he ran very well to finish fifth.

His family tend to progress well with a bit of time so he's one we are quite excited about.

In terms of his long term aim, I'm not sure as he will get further than two miles but there mightn't be any need to step him up in distance for the time being. At the moment I would be thinking of starting him in the first few weeks of October and then targeting the likes of the Royal Bond and the good novice race at Leopardstown over Christmas.

As most people are by now aware Philip Reynolds has sent us Presenting Percy and it's very exciting to have a horse of his ability for all those top staying chases. Pat Kelly did an amazing job to get this horse to Cheltenham in top shape to win there twice and I just hope that we can do as good a job with the horse.

It seems a long time ago that he was a brilliant winner of the RSA at Cheltenham but that was only two years ago and I'm hoping he still retains that level of ability. He didn't win last season but wasn't all that far off winning one of those big staying chases and, if you look back at the Gold Cup, he was running a big race when he came down at the second last. So I'm hoping he will still be competitive at this level.

Presenting Percy - 1280.jpg

At the moment I would say that we are thinking of starting him off in the big chase at Down Royal but there's no shortage of options for him as he hasn't won over fences for a good while so we could start him off at a lower level in a conditions chase if we felt that was the right thing to do.

He is looking good and seems very well in himself and I think there is still plenty more to come from this horse.

She's a very exciting mare and it's great to have a horse like her for Noel and Valerie Moran who are such great supporters of the yard.

Gordon Elliott Betfair Jacket & Hat - 1280.jpg

We are still just learning about her as she has only run twice for us but you'd like to think that she will be one of the very best mares that will be going hurdling this season. On her debut for us she won a bumper at Gowran as she liked and at that stage I wasn't really thinking about Cheltenham for her.

However, she was really pleasing us in her work coming up to Cheltenham so we decided to let her take her chance and she ran an excellent race to finish third to Ferny Hollow. The obvious target for her after that showing would be the Mares Novice Hurdle back at Cheltenham in March and we will work back from there.

She is going nicely in her work and has schooled well. The plan would be to try and get a run into her in the first half of October and then go on to Down Royal for the Grade 3 mares novice hurdle which we won with Daylight Katie last year. We will see how those two runs go before committing to any future plans but she's a mare that should be quite capable of taking on high class geldings when the time comes.

Dark Horses to watch

Don Diablo

He's worth watching out for over the next few weeks as he's a nice horse who is capable of a fair bit better than he showed on his only run last season when he was beaten by a smart horse of Noel's (Powerful Ted) in a bumper at Galway in October. He just missed a bit of time at the wrong part of the season but he is back in good shape and going well. I'd expect him to take plenty of beating in a bumper before he goes hurdling when he should make a nice novice.

Farouk D'alene

He's hardly a dark horse having won both his start in bumpers for us but he mightn't be quite as high profile as some of our other horses. Since he first came to us I've loved him and I really like the way he goes about things. He was always going to be at his best when he was sent jumping so it was nice to see him win two bumpers and I really liked his second win at Naas where he beat a very good horse of Joseph O'Brien's. He's going to be a nice type for some good staying novice hurdles.

Grand Roi

He cost a lot of money out of the Million In Mind dispersal at Doncaster during the summer but he came with a big reputation and you couldn't fault him on what he has done on the track so far. To date he has campaigned at a relatively low key level but he has won three of his four starts and shown enough to suggest he might contend for some big races.

At home he seems a very relaxed and laid back type so while two miles is fine for him I don't think he will have any trouble staying a bit further. As he is a four-year-old it would make sense to try and keep him to his own age group initially so the Grade 3 Fishery Lane Hurdle at Naas in November and the Grade 2 at Limerick over Christmas would look like two good races to aim towards. He isn't with us all that long but I'd like what he has been able to show us.

Run Wild Fred

Last season was a bit more low key for him than for some of our other novice hurdles but when he last ran he produced a really nice effort to defeat a good horse of Willie's (Lord Royal) in a Grade 3 at Punchestown in mid-February. It would have been very interesting to see what would have happened had he not fallen two out in a decent novice hurdle at Thurles in January which was won by Monkfish. That horse would have been extremely hard to beat on the day but I think our horse would have finished a very good second.

He is a really tough sort and a thorough stayer who he should make a quality staying chaser and he'd look to me like a horse for the likes of either the RSA or the National Hunt Chase. I'd also expect him to progress very well with racing this season.

The Bosses Oscar

I would imagine he caught a lot of people's eye when he was an unlucky fifth in last season's Martin Pipe at Cheltenham. Given how the race unfolded for him I think he did very well to finish fifth. He has point-to-point experience but he is a very young horse still so I think we might keep him to hurdling this season and there is a nice prize to be won with him over two-and-a-half miles or further. We have a few good handicaps over those trips in Ireland and I'd be hoping he could win one of those and we'll be looking to get back to Cheltenham for something like the Coral Cup.

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Friday 19 March, 3.30pm

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