Betfair Ambassador Gordon Elliott is set for a busy Sunday afternoon as he sends 12 runners to Limerick and one to the meeting at Navan. Here's what he has to say about their chances...
"Our Father is a fragile horse and it's not far off four years since he last made it to the track... It is a huge ask for him to try and win this, but I am encouraged by the fact he has always seemed to run well fresh."
Elwood's debut should point to good things to come
He's a horse that came to us over the summer from France. He's a half-brother to Delta Work and is quite a similar horse to him, so hopefully we've plenty to look forward to with him. He has won over hurdles in France but he is a novice in Ireland until early December so this looked a good race to start him out in.
Since arriving he's been brought along steadily and he's been doing fine in his work but, like a lot of my horses, I would expect him to improve for this first run of the season. He looks like a horse that will stay well and Delta Work is a strong stayer so in time I'd expect him to be a three miler. He should run a nice race but there will be more to come from him after this run.
Hoping for improvement from talented mare
This mare isn't one who is going to be running throughout the winter, so she is turning out again nine days after an unplaced run in a handicap hurdle at Gowran. That last run was a little disappointing as she had previously run creditably at Ballinrobe and Kilbeggan but she is probably in the grip of the handicapper at the moment. The switch back to mares only company will help her and, if she comes back to the form of her earlier runs this autumn, she has a good chance of reaching the frame.
Second run of the weekend for Make My Heart Fly
As you know, she is due to run over fences at Fairyhouse on Saturday but we put her in this race too in case it cut up dramatically. We'll just see how she gets on at Fairyhouse before making any decision about this race. Good Thyne Tara, who beat her easily at Gowran last week, lines up again and, even at these revised weights, I feel a place is the best we can hope for.
Big day for a popular runner
I was pleased to see him go and win at Bellewstown back in August as he's a horse we've always liked but it's just taken him some time to get things together on the track. He will be stepping up to three miles for the first time here and the trip should suit him well. That said, this will be his first run in handicap company and he wouldn't have the same experience as some of his rivals. I'm hoping for a solid showing.
Nice opportunity for Tombstone
Tombstone was in the process of running quite respectably on his reappearance at Tipperary last Sunday only to make quite a bad mistake at the second last in a Grade 3 and that error cost him any chance of getting involved. He came out of that race very well and this looked a nice opportunity for him back over fences so he's been declared and it looks as though the race could be a match between himself and Montalbano. Hopefully he will turn in a clean round of jumping and the pick of his form over fences last season would possibly give him the edge here.
Star of last season set to ease back into action
Poormans Hill was a star for us last season winning a host of races over hurdles and fences. He is only just ready to start back so he is going to need this run and the trip is short of his best too, so I would imagine he will have his work cut out against Montalbano and Tombstone.
Classy Alpha could struggle off top weight
We won this race two years ago with Tiger Roll and I think we've quite a strong team for this year's renewal. Alpha Des Obeaux is a horse who came to us from Mouse Morris and he is a classy sort at his best. He is nine pounds higher than when he was second to Total Recall in this 12 months ago and it won't be easy for him off top weight. He seems well in himself and, if we can get him to perform to the level that Mouse did, he will be a nice horse for some good handicaps throughout the winter.
In-form Rogue Angel could go close
Rogue Angel comes here off two good runs and he showed up well to be beaten just over four length in the Kerry National last month. He's a regular in these types of races and he has won some big handicaps in his time. If he runs to the level that he has done on his last two starts, I'd expect him to go close.
Can Timiyan return to form?
Timiyan showed he had a future in these types of races in the Midlands National at Kilbeggan during the summer. It just didn't happen for him in the Kerry National last time but I'm inclined to ignore that run as he was on the back foot from the moment he made a bad mistake at the first fence. A return to the form he showed at Kilbeggan should see him run well.
Best is yet to come from strong stayer
Its All Guesswork is only a novice and he wouldn't have anything like the same level of experience as most of the runners. He is a horse that has always shown a nice bit of ability at home and I'm hoping that fences will allow him to fulfill his potential. He's a strong stayer who loves good ground and I'm hoping he won't be at too much of a disadvantage in terms of experience. I do think that we have yet to see the best of him.
Huge ask for Our Father
Our Father is a fragile horse and it's not far off four years since he last made it to the track and we'll just have to see how much of his old ability still remains. At home he has been working well and he retains all his old enthusiasm which is encouraging. It is a huge ask for him to try and win this on his first run since January 2015 but I am encouraged by the fact he has always seemed to run well fresh.
Inexperienced Boot Camp should relish this trip
He won a couple of times for us over the summer and, while he is still a novice over hurdles, we felt there was no point delaying in sending him chasing. He has schooled well at home which is a positive and the ground will be fine for him. He has always looked as though he would be well suited by this sort of trip. A few of these have an edge in terms of previous chasing experience but he should run well.
Finally, my one runner at Navan...
He is taking a big step up in class for the Listed Irish Stallion Farms EBF Legacy Stakes and it will be interesting to see how he gets on. Before he first ran he was working nicely and looked like a horse that would be able to win a maiden but he ran quite poorly over seven furlongs at Leopardstown. That run was just too bad to be true so he came back in trip for his next run at Carlisle and the shorter distance and easier ground looked to suit him well as he won nicely.
There is definitely more to come from him but we have been a little limited in terms of options for him which is why he is stepping up to stakes level. I do think that he could make a very nice three-year-old sprinter next year but in the short term this race will tell us what direction we need to take for the rest of the turf season. He is going to have to step forward again for this but I'd expect him to run a solid race and conditions should be perfect for him.