The top class festive racing continues at Leopardstown and Limerick on Sunday, and Gordon Elliott has some leading chances at both venues...
"He's a very talented horse who I hope will be up there with the top novices at the end of the season but this race should tell us plenty more about his prospects as he is taking on some very smart types."
- Gordon Elliott on Ballyadam
*Best Chance - Ballyadam (13:45)
Has improved since last run
He came back from a long absence to run a nice race in a decent enough beginner's chase at Navan last month. He has improved since then so I'm hoping he could give another good account of himself although everyone could be playing for second here if Klassica Dream runs his race. In time our horse will get further and he should improve as he goes up in trip but I see him lining up with each-way prospects.
Expecting a big run from Ballyadam but Lyreen can run well also
Ballyadam looks to have a leading chance having won his first two runs this season which included the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse last month. He didn't jump wonderfully in the Royal Bond but Jack was keen to get in amongst horses and teach him something that day so the experience he picked up there should help him sharpen up with regard to his hurdling. He's a very talented horse who I hope will be up there with the top novices at the end of the season but this race should tell us plenty more about his prospects as he is taking on some very smart types. I'm expecting him to be right there at the finish.
Call My Lyreen is a lovely horse who has yet to be beaten and he has answered every question asked of him so far. After winning at Tramore and Sligo he coped well with a big rise in class to win a Grade 2 in good style at Naas last month. I think he can improve again and the switch to decent ground will help him. He is stepping up in class once more but he's coming forward all the time and he is certainly worth his place in the line up. I could see him running another big race.
Eclair the pick of my trio and has solid place claimes
Eclair De Beaufeu was going to run a big race in a good handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse a few weeks ago only to fall at the second last. That fall didn't take anything out of him and I'm hoping he could run well even though he has a lot of weight to carry. We've brought him back to hurdles as I think there is a good handicap to be won with him at some stage this season and he lines up here with a solid each-way chance.
Recent Revelations was a useful juvenile hurdler last season and he ran a couple of reasonable races in the early part of the summer. However, he performed poorly at Galway after which we got his wind done and he has shown very little in two runs since then. I'm scratching my head with him and for the time being I feel he is best watched.
Gold Des Bois won his maiden at Clonmel in the autumn but he has struggled since then. He is a horse with ability and can certainly win a handicap off his mark but he doesn't help himself and he can be a bit free which is why he is wearing a hood again. If this race was run at a strong gallop it would suit him and I know if everything fell into place for him he could run well.
Some solid chances among my quintet but Milan and Farclas probably the pick
We always try to run as many as we can in the Paddy Power and I hope a few of our horses have a chance. Milan Native has plenty of weight but Rob James' claim will help and Rob knows him well having won on him at Cheltenham. He pulled up in the Porterstown at Fairyhouse last time but actually ran very well for a long way and coming back in trip on nice ground will suit him well. I could see him running a big race.
Farclas is a former Triumph Hurdle winner and I was thrilled with his comeback run at Punchestown last month when he shaped up well in a decent second season handicap chase. He'll improve for that run and this longer trip and I think he has prospects of at least reaching the frame.
Roaring Bull won this race last year. He is not easy to predict as a look at his recent form figures would suggest. On a going day though he could run very well as he showed when he beat everything bar The Jam Man in last month's Troytown. His jockey Gavin Brouder gets a good tune out of horses like him and don't be surprised if he bounces back to form.
Monbeg Notorious isn't that reliable but has loads of ability. Ideally he would prefer softer ground and a stiffer test of stamina and a race like the Thyestes is more to his liking. He is going well at home though so we are going to give him a chance and see what he can do.
Run Wild Fred has been a disappointment over fences so far this season and has become very, very lazy which is a concern. As a result of that we have put cheek pieces on him to sharpen him up and I am running him in a race like this as I hope a big field in a race run at a good pace will wake him up. I still think there are nice staying handicaps to be won with him but I just want to see some sort of spark from him here.
Come on since Navan and this test is what he wants
I was hoping for a solid run from him at Navan earlier this month and he ran a respectable race to finish third to a very smart horse. He will have to improve from that run but I think he has come on since Navan this sort of a test over two and a half miles is what he wants. I could see him finishing in the first three.
*Best Chance - Farouk D'alene
Conditions are right up his street
He's not as good as he used to be but I think it will help him dropping into veteran's chase company. On his three runs this season he has pulled up but on his first two runs he has shaped much better than the final result would suggest as he shaped well for a long way. He does like testing ground and a stamina test so this race should be right up his street and I could see him running well. He has an each way chance.
Farouk should go very close while Ragnar can also get invovled
Farouk D'alene is a good horse and I'm still scratching my head over what happened at Navan last time. He just didn't look comfortable going left handed and he jumped poorly and nothing went right during the race. All things considered he probably ran well to finish fourth to Fakiera that day. He is much better than he showed there and I'm hoping a switch to a right handed track will show him in a much better light. I'm still hoping he could make up into a good staying novice hurdler this season and if he is back to his best he should be up to going very close in a race such as this. The trip and ground should be fine for him.
Ragnar Lodbrok has started off over hurdles with three solid runs. He won his maiden at Galway has since shown up reasonably well in two fair novice hurdles at Cork. His Cork runs suggest that he is fine on testing ground which will be a big help to him here and the trip will be no problem at all. His jumping has let him down a little bit lately so with a better ground of jumping I'd expect to see him involved at the finish.
Should be there at the finish
He is a grand horse who is probably good enough to win a bumper. I think he has run to a solid standard on all three of his runs so far and last time out at Thurles he ran creditably against a very smart looking horse of Willie's. He seems to handle soft ground and looks like a horse that will stay reasonably well so this sort of test should suit him so I'd be expecting him to be right there at the finish.