It's the final day of 2017 and, before the big night of festivities begins, Betfair Ambassador Gordon Elliott is taking eight runners to Punchestown for the afternoon card. Can our man see out the year in style?
14:10 - Veneer of Charm
"We are going to leave the headgear off Veneer of Charm today, and we'll learn much more about him after the run, but based on his homework I anticipate a decent hurdling debut."
12:35 - Monbeg Notorious
Monbeg Notorious is a lovely big galloping horse and we like him a lot. He will really enjoy today's trip and ground and, after two pleasing first runs over fences, I'd hope he can improve on them today. On his penultimate start he finished second less than four lengths behind stablemate Dounikos who won a Grade 2 earlier this week.
Robin Des Mana was slightly disappointing last time out at Navan. After staying on well to win despite some acrobatics early on in the race the time before at Clonmel, we went gone into the race at Navan confident he could replicate that run. Unfortunately, he seemed to find the going a little too tough. He has run well here on a couple of occasions, so I hope he can regain his consistency.
Diamond King makes his seasonal return, he finished a remote fifth here at the end of May but is a course and distance winner. He's been working very nicely at home and reverts back to hurdles today which we hope will allow him to build back up his confidence and if all goes to plan we are looking forward to a good run from the Coral Cup winner.
He joined us earlier this season and has his first start for the yard in the Three-Year-Old Hurdle. A winner over 1m2 on the flat, he schools well at home and has settled into the Cullentra routine. We are going to leave the headgear off him today, and we'll learn much more about him after the run, but based on his homework I anticipate a decent hurdling debut.
Azua Emery has come close on both her starts for us and now with her French run has three consecutive seconds to her name. I'd be very hopeful of another good run from her today but even more so with the 7lb fillies allowance and Liam McKenna on board claiming an additional 7lb.
She stayed on well to win here over 2m back in November but was raised 8lb for the pleasure. She was also a winner on the flat on her penultimate start, so she's proving herself to be a versatile sort. Recently, she has made light work of testing conditions. I think she will handle the step up in trip today and, with the recent wins a real confidence boost, I'd be hopeful she can finish close again today.
Best Of Dubai although consistent is yet to get her head in front. She's now on her sixth bumper run and she should have gained enough experience to improve again. Nina Carberry retains the ride after finishing second on her last time out. I'd love to see her go one better today and for the horse to get off the mark.
Girley Talk makes her debut today. A four-year-old by Whitmore's Conn, she has done plenty at home, but will come on from the run today. We'll know more about her and can make more of a plan for her then. Lisa O'Neill takes the ride claiming 3lb.