Over the past few years we have seen Gordon Elliott emerge as a real force in the training ranks over in Ireland and he will head to the Cheltenham Festival this month with his best team yet. With the Festival now just round the corner, we have taken a closer look at the Gordon Elliott string as we look to pick out his best bet and a dark horse to follow.
Ball D'Arc - Supreme Novices Hurdle/County Hurdle or Martin Pipe
40/1 for the Supreme with Betfred/20/1 for the County Hurdle with Bet Victor or 20/1 for the Martin Pipe with Bet Victor, Paddy Power or Ladbrokes
Smashed up by Min earlier in the season, Ball D'Arc has won twice since in impressive fashion and appears to be improving with every run. A chaser in the making who wants decent ground and could well go to one of the handicaps on the final day.
Bless The Wings - Cross Country Chase
20/1 for the Cross Country Chase with all the major firms
Ran well in both Cross Country Chases at Cheltenham this season without looking like winning and heading back there for the Festival. Won't benefit from it being level weights this season but might have place claims in an unpredictable contest.
Bright New Dawn - Grand Annual, Champion Chase or Ryanair Chase
20/1 NRNB with bet365 and Sky Bet for the Grand Annual
An experienced chaser entered for two Grade 1 races but might have a fair mark for the Grand Annual. Elliott reports him to be 'a bit of a boy' and he can be inconsistent but he did win last time out on heavy ground and cannot be ruled out.
Campeador - Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle
7/1 NRNB with bet365 for the Fred Winter
Too keen when only 4th at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, Campeador remains highly thought of and is likely to have the hood on Cheltenham. Needs to settle better at Cheltenham to have any chance and mark will be interesting but clearly has quality.
Cause Of Causes - Ultima Handicap Chase or Kim Muir
20/1 for the Ultima Handicap Chase with Hills or 14/1 with Bet Victor for the Kim Muir
Still only eight, Cause Of Causes is a rock solid stayer who looks an ideal Kim Muir type with Jamie Codd expected to take the ride. Main target looks the Grand National again this season but can play a major hand at Cheltenham before heading to Liverpool.
12/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair for the County Hurdle
Another former Donald McCain in-mate now with Elliott who as shaped well on both of his starts for his new trainer. Found trouble in running before staying on well in the coral.ie Hurdle last time out and has been kept fresh since. Definitely a player at Cheltenham.
Diamond King - Coral Cup
12/1 with Ladbrokes for the Coral Cup
Laid out for the Coral Cup since he joined Gordon Elliott from the Donald McCain yard and has be a major player fresh. Impressed when winning on heavy ground at Punchestown last time out and has won on better ground before. Expect him to run well.
Don Cossack - Gold Cup
4/1 NRNB with bet365, Sky Bet, Ladbrokes, Hills, Bet Victor, Coral and Betfair
Highest rated Chaser in training last season who fell when getting into the equation in the King George. Didn't impress last time at Thurles but might be better for head gear and a trip. Not won at Cheltenham before but has a big chance.
Fagan - Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
33/1 with Sky Bet
Far from disgraced when narrowly beaten by O O Seven at Musselburgh last time out and looks a decent stayer for the Elliott team. Entitled to take his chance at Cheltenham in the Albert Bartlett but might just fall short of the quality needed to be placed.
Killer Crow - Novices Handicap Chase
14/1 with Ladbrokes for the Novices Handicap Chase
Ran a good race when 2nd last time out at Leopardstown and has been kept fresh since for this race on the first day of the Festival. Elliott convinced he will be better on decent ground and although this looks a very tight contest, he has a good chance as anything off his mark.
Missy Tata - Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle
20/1 with Coral for the Fred Winter
Had two runs since coming over from France winning one and beaten when odds on last time out at Fairyhouse. That was a disappointing run but she has had a break since and like most of these French imports, it is hard to get a real handle on her mark.
No More Heroes - RSA Chase
5/2 with Betfair for the RSA Chase
Flawless season so far over fences who looks ideally suited to the RSA Chase as a strong stayer. Was an unlucky 3rd in the Albert Bartlett last season but looks happier over fences and is 3-3 so far this term. Looks the best of the Irish for the RSA this season.
Noble Endeavour - National Hunt Chase/Festival Handicap Chase/RSA Chase/Festival Plate or Kim Muir
8/1 with Ladbrokes for the National Hunt Chase
Only a head behind the brilliant Killultagh Vic in the Martin Pipe race last year giving weight away and connections are convinced that the four miler will be perfect for him. Not out of the first three in four starts this season and Jamie Codd could be on board.
Our Father - Kim Muir Challenge Cup
7/1 with Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Betfair for the Kim Muir
Popular grey who has been switched from the David Pipe yard since his last run and might start favourite for the Kim Muir. Nina Carberry set to ride which is another boost and if Elliott can improve the horse, he is sure to go close before a potential National tilt.
Prince Of Scars - World Hurdle
20/1 NRNB with bet365, Sky Bet, Ladbrokes, Hills, Bet Victor and Betfair
Super impressive winner of the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown in December who might be under the radar for the World Hurdle. Won all three race since bring switched to Gordon Elliott and could be an each way player if there is some juice in the ground. Won't run on anything too quick.
Squouateur - Martin Pipe or Coral Cup
10/1 with B et Victor for the Martin Pipe or 20/1 for the Coral Cup with Paddy Power
Won three of his four races this season including last time out at Fairyhouse and it appears the Martin Pipe race is his most likely target. Should have more to come off of his mark and Jack Kennedy could take the ride with the ground not likely to trouble him either way.
Taglietelle - Pertemps Final
16/1 with most online firms for the Pertemps Final
4th in the Coral Cup last year so can run well at Cheltenham and tends to run solid races without getting his head in front too often. Was staying on well last time out at Musselbugh and is no mug but might have plenty on his plate at the Festival this year.
The Game Changer - Arkle Trophy Chase
20/1 with Boylesports for the Arkle
A good ground horse who has been kept fresh since winning three on the bounce since last autumn in impressive fashion. Could be one for the places behind Douvan if the ground is decent and might just be under the radar for Gigginstown if he turns up at Cheltenham.
Tombstone - Supreme or Neptune
12/1 for the Supreme with Sky Bet, Ladbrokes, Hills and Betfair or 25/1 for the Neptune with Paddy Power
A highly thought of horse who looks an each-way Supreme contender having impressed so far this season. Beaten on his last two starts but lost little in defeat both times and will have the hood on at Cheltenham to sharpen him up. Will be staying on up the Cheltenham hill.
Westend Star - Coral Cup, Albert Bartlett or Martin Pipe
16/1NRNB with bet365 and Sky Bet for the Martin Pipe
Narrowly beaten in a Grade 3 last time out at Clonmel and is expected to be seen to better impact on decent ground at Cheltenham. Entered in a few races with the Martin Pipe race the most likely and like many of these, he has to have a chance.
Whistle Dixie - Mares Novices Hurdle, Coral Cup, Martin Pipe or Mares Hurdle
33/1 NRNB with bet365 or Sky Bet for the Mares Novices Hurdle
A full sister to Kicking King, she was smashed up by Limini earlier this season and is likely to take her on again in the new race. Hard to see her reversing that form but she is probably better than she showed last time and there would be worse each-way bets at the Festival.