Betfair Ambassador Gordon Elliott discusses his St Stephen's Day runners at Leopardstown and Limerick and picks his best chances at each course...
"I’m delighted with how he has taken to fences. He wasn’t a good jumper of hurdles but he has much more respect for his fences and I thought he jumped very nicely at Punchestown last time when he beat Latest Exhibition in a Grade 2."
Pair should benefit from the run
Fields Of Dreams fell on his hurdling debut at Navan earlier in the month. I think he was going to run a respectable race but he just got a bit tired on deep ground on his first run since February. He has come on for that run and I hope he will run a solid race but he is one who I feel will improve with racing. He won't mind the switch to better ground.
Purdey's Gift is trying hurdles for the first time. He was a grand horse on the flat and I was pleased with his first run for us at Dundalk a few weeks when he ran respectably and gave the impression that he would improve for the run. He's in good shape and has schooled well so I'm hoping he will run a nice race but I do think that he will improve plenty for this first experience of going hurdling.
Capable of getting closely involved
He probably does want a longer trip but he has shown that he can be competitive at this distance and he did run well in a Grade 3 over this trip at Navan last month. I know some people might feel he has been a little disappointing over hurdles so far but if you look at his form it stands up well as he has been running against some good horses and his latest second to Ashdale Bob at Navan now reads very well. I think there is more to come from him as a hurdler and I'll be disappointed if he doesn't get closely involved.
The one they have to beat
After this horse won at Fairyhouse the plan was to wait for the Dublin Racing Festival but he is very well in himself and seems to be in great form so we've decided to let him take his chance. You couldn't really have asked for any more from him at Fairyhouse when he won very well from a horse of Willie's who had won a couple of times over hurdles in France.
If he turns up in that sort of form again he is the one they will all have to beat. He's exciting and I think the best is yet to come from him.
Pair to compete in hot race
One Down is going to take his chance in a novice handicap hurdle and I'm hoping the experience that he picked up in graded races will stand to him. He was out of his depth in the Royal Bond last time but his previous run in a Grade 3 at Navan was a very respectable one and his third to Call Me Lyreen at Sligo a couple of months ago is another solid effort. He has plenty of weight but he is dropping in class and will enjoy the nice ground so I think he is lining up with an each way chance and his rider's claim will help.
Envious Editor is a grand horse who deserves to win a maiden having run a number of solid races in defeat this season. We are switching him to handicap company and the experience he picked up in maidens will help. I'd like to think he will be very competitive off his mark. This does look a hot race though so I'd be quite wary of a number of his rivals.
Top talent should be there at the finish
He has made a bright start over fences and I was very pleased with him when he won a Grade 2 at Punchestown last month, beating a good horse in Sizing Pottsie. He showed at Punchestown that he has relaxed quite a bit since his novice hurdling days which is a help as now he doesn't have to make the running.
He's a very talented horse who won at Grade 1 level as a novice hurdler and we always hoped he would reach a similar level over fences. His last run would look to give him a good chance here. I've the utmost respect for a few of his rivals but I would like to think that our horse will be right there at the finish.
Timoteo is strong contender
Or Jaune De Samoza was having his first run for us when he contested a decent handicap chase at Fairyhouse last month. He'll have to improve on his sixth place finish there but I think he has come forward since then and he is a capable sort at this level when he puts his best foot forward. I wouldn't be surprised to see him run well.
Timoteo also contested that race at Fairyhouse and he ran quite respectably to finish fourth. He possibly didn't finish out his race at Fairyhouse as well as he should have and maybe he just needs to be produced late in his races. At home he shows me that he is up to winning a race like this and I think that he gives us a strong hand here.
Top Bandit looks sharp
Imperial Sachin's is a grand horse and I was happy with his first run in what was probably a decent enough Downpatrick bumper a couple of months ago. He has come on for that run and will have sharpened up too so I'd be hoping to see him take a step forward. But I am aware that this is usually a hot bumper and you wouldn't know what you would bump into.
Top Bandit ran a nice race on his debut at Sligo when he was second to a mare of Willie's who has won since. Obviously he will have to improve on that to win but I think that he is capable of doing so. He got left in front a bit soon at Sligo and was just a bit green in the straight so I think that run will have taught him plenty and sharpened him up and he is working like he has improved since then.
Time to settle down
He was much too free on his first run over hurdles at Killarney in October when he eventually finished fourth and he will have to learn to settle better if he is to make a useful hurdler. He's in good form at home and seems to have relaxed and settled down a bit since Killarney so more than anything I am hoping he will race more professionally and give himself a chance to finish his race. The main hope is that he settles.
Promising one for rest of the season
He's a nice horse and I thought he produced a lovely effort on his racecourse debut earlier this month at Navan to win a maiden hurdle when he recovered well from a mistake at the last to beat a horse with the advantage of a previous run this season. He has potential but he lacks experience and I'm not sure how he is going to handle ground as testing as what he will encounter here. Whatever happens here I know he's a promising sort for the rest of the season
Could be thereabouts at the finish
After a good run at Navan in early November I thought he was quite disappointing back there next time when he finished a well held fourth. He raced quite lazily that day so I've put headgear on him to sharpen him up and hopefully he will take a step forward. He's a horse with plenty of ability and I think he is more than capable of winning a maiden hurdle so if he applies himself properly he should be thereabouts at the finish.
Recent form shows she has a chance
She's a grand mare who stays well and handles testing ground so she has plenty going for her, although a longer trip would suit her better as I think three miles is best for her. She is switching back to mares only company though so that will work in her favour and if she can match the form of her last two runs she should be able to get closely involved.
My best chance should go close
I'm delighted with how he has taken to fences. He wasn't a good jumper of hurdles but he has much more respect for his fences and I thought he jumped very nicely at Punchestown last time when he beat Latest Exhibition in a Grade 2.
He has to come back in trip a little bit but he's horse with a touch of class and he's not just an out and out stayer so I'm not too worried about the trip and we know from his runs at Punchestown and Galway this season that he goes well on heavy ground. He's going to need to produce another big performance here but I think he is capable of doing so. I'm expecting him to go close.
Completely Free £5 Bet on the King George!
Claim your free £5 bet to use on the Betfair Exchange on the King George on Boxing Day (Kempton, 15:00). T&Cs apply. More details here.