Cheltenham Festival ante post: Five to follow from the Gordon Elliott stable

Irish Horse Racing Tips. Gordon Elliott has a live contender for the Grade 2 at Fairyhouse on Sunday in Ash Tree Meadow.Irish Horse Racing Tips. Gordon Elliott has a live contender for the Grade 2 at Fairyhouse on Sunday in Ash Tree Meadow.

Five to Watch from the Elliott Yard

Trainer Gordon Elliott missed last year’s Cheltenham Festival in disgrace after a photograph was circulated of him sitting on a dead horse. Some of his leading Cheltenham hopes were moved to rival yards while Denise Foster took over the license at Cullentra Stables during his suspension. Now back at the helm, Elliott will be hoping to return to winning ways at the 2022 National Hunt festival. We have selected five of his most exciting prospects for the big meeting in March.


Ardhill

Ardhill is a familiar name to bookmakers after he landed a gamble from 14-1 to 4-1 favourite at Ascot in December. The seven-year-old had been finishing in a different parish to the winner in his recent races and the improvement in form did not go unnoticed by the stewards. His remarkable transformation was put down to the application of first-time blinkers combined with a better racing surface than he had previously encountered.

The Ascot race was a three-mile novices’ handicap hurdle and Ardhill was racing off a mark of 104. He has since been reassessed on 111 but missed his intended engagement at Fairyhouse in January on vet’s advice. Assuming all is well with the gelding, he looks a likely contender for either the Pertemps Final (20-1 ante-post) or the Martin Pipe Hurdle (16-1).


Ginto: A Hope for Gordon Elliott in either the Ballymore or Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdles.

Ginto: A Hope for Gordon Elliott in either the Ballymore or Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdles.

Ginto

Ginto underlined his claims for the top staying novice hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival when winning the Grade 1 Lawlor’s of Naas Hurdle in January. The six-year-old son of Walk In The Park made the running and quickly shrugged off his challengers to beat Grand Jury by four and a quarter lengths. He had previously slammed Eric Bloodaxe, a useful novice in his own right, by eleven lengths at Navan.

Elliott stated afterwards that all Ginto does is stay so he had to do the donkey work or risk being caught flat-footed in a sprint. That suggests his natural Cheltenham target would be the three-mile Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on March 18th. He is a top-priced 7-1 for that race behind 5-1 favourite Blazing Khal. If the going came up heavy, he could be re-routed to the shorter Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (9-1).


Saint Felicien

For Elliott to enter a horse for the Champion Hurdle after winning a novice hurdle at Gowran Park, there has to be something special about it. Saint Felicien joined Elliott after winning a race in France comfortably and arrived with a big reputation. He is a son of Saint Des Saints and races in the same colours as prolific stable companion Teahupoo who also holds a Champion Hurdle entry. 

Both horses also hold entries in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on 6th February. Were Saint Felicien to line up against reigning Champion and odds-on favourite Honeysuckle, the outcome of the race would dictate future plans. He is currently a 33-1 shot for the Champion Hurdle.


American Mike

Elliott’s record in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in recent seasons speaks for itself. He won it in 2017 and 2019 with Fayonagh and Envoi Allen respectively. He then lost charge of Sir Gerhard in the run up to Cheltenham with the horse winning in the care of Willie Mullins.

Elliott’s American Mike put down an early marker for this year’s renewal with an effortless 7 lengths win at Down Royal in October. He was immediately installed favourite and followed up by 17 lengths at Navan in December. It is going to take a good horse to lower his colours at Cheltenham for which he is 3-1 ante-post favourite.


Fil Dor: Clear Triumph Hurdle favourite for Elliott on the Friday of the Festival.

Fil Dor: Clear Triumph Hurdle favourite for Elliott on the Friday of the Festival.

Fil Dor

Elliott’s recent record in the Triumph Hurdle is also impressive, winning it with Tiger Roll in 2014 and Farclas in 2018. As in the Champion Bumper, he missed out on a third triumph when Quilixios was moved to a rival yard last season, in this case that of Henry De Bromhead. Elliott has the clear favourite this year in the unbeaten Fil Dor, a grey son of Doctor Dino.

Fil Dor beat Lunar Power by a length and a quarter at Fairyhouse in November. He extended that margin to seven lengths on 3lbs worse terms at Leopardstown the following month. Fil Dor is odds-on favourite for the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle on 5th February and currently a best-priced 3-1 for the Triumph Hurdle.