2019/20 National Hunt horses to follow – Five Gordon Elliott horses to track throughout the season
Our expert takes a look through Gordon Elliott’s stable and highlights five horses worth tracking during the 2019/20 National Hunt season.
After taking the title race down to the final day of the Punchestown Festival the previous season, Gordon Elliott admitted defeat to Willie Mullins rather tamely, in comparison, in 2018/19. Tiger Rolls stunning Grand National defense aside, many of Elliott’s superstars underwhelmed at the major Festivals, with horses like Apple’s Jade – who had starred during the first half of the campaign – suffering surprise defeats on the big stage.
Sire Du Berlais, Envoi Allen and the great Tiger Roll all managed to find the winners’ enclosure at Prestbury Park, but his tally of three was down on what Elliott would have expected going into the Cheltenham Festival. The man from County Meath will be keen to give Willie Mullins a real run for his money in 2019/20 and here are five of Gordon Elliott’s horses who certainly look worthy of tracking during the upcoming campaign.
Gordon Elliott Horses To Follow
Gordon Elliott’s last top mare was former Champion Bumper winner Fayonaugh, who tragically lost her life as she prepared to kick off what promised to be a wonderful career over jumps. Daylight Katie didn’t quite achieve the heights of her ill-fated former stablemate, but she showed enough last term to suggest she will be a big player on the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle scene.
Following two early season defeats, Daylight Katie got off the mark in a bumper at Gowran Park, defeating a field of her fellow mares by eight lengths. Elliott’s charge then rocked up at Aintree as a 12/1 outsider in their Grade Two bumper for mares and ran a cracking race, staying on gamely behind The Glancing Queen and Minella Melody to claim third.
Daylight Katie then turned the tables on Minella Melody at Punchestown, finishing second behind the hugely impressive Gypsy Island. Gordon Elliott is very excited about Daylight Katie’s prospects as she turns her attentions to hurdles and I’d be surprised if we didn’t see her at next year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Despite winning a couple of good bumpers during the first half of the season, Envoi Allen remained in the betting for both the Supreme and the Ballymore, with Gordon Elliott intimating on a number of occasions that his five-year-old could tackle jumps before the season ended.
As it was, Envoi Allen took his spot in the Champion Bumper and Jamie Codd’s mount looked every inch a star in the making. Envoi Allen traveled smoothly throughout the race, hitting the front three from home before holding off dangerous challenger, Blue Sari to claim his first Cheltenham Festival victory.
Elliott was quoted in saying Envoi Allen could be a Gold Cup horse in the future. Only time will tell whether those thoughts turn out to be accurate or not, but there’s no doubting Envoi Allen has the scope and talent to make a top-level chaser in the near future. First though, a novice hurdling campaign awaits and the Ballymore could be the ideal target for this exciting sort.
During stable tours before the beginning of last season, Gordon Elliott could barely contain his excitement when discussing Battleoverdoyen. A huge big stamp of a horse with knock-your-eye-out looks, Elliott stated that anything his six-year-old was to achieve over hurdles would be a bonus, as chasing was always going to be his forte.
As it turned out, Battleoverdoyen wasn’t half bad over the smaller obstacles, beating the talented Sam’s Profile in the Grade One Lawlor’s Of Naas Novices’ Hurdle on just his second outing over hurdles. Battleoverdoyen then tried to emulate stablemate Samcro by winning the Ballymore at Cheltenham, but everything went wrong for the favourite on the day and he was pulled up well before the end.
Battleoverdoyen needed just two runs over hurdles to reach a rating of 146. He will build on that mark significantly once he starts out over the larger obstacles and it would be quite the shock if Battleoverdoyen didn’t land top-honours during his novice chasing campaign.
The unbeatable aura which once surrounded Gordon Elliott’s star was well and truly shattered last season and, in hindsight, Gigginstown Stud will deeply regret their decision to keep Samcro over hurdles. The former Cheltenham Festival winner looked sluggish and cumbersome outside novice company, falling to three resounding defeats before an illness ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign.
Punters who have already backed Samcro to win the Gold Cup in the future may feel like tearing up their betting slips after last season’s debacle. Yet, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic. Samcro won’t have lost his ability overnight, he was simply racing in the wrong discipline last season.
Elliott could have rushed Samcro back for the big Festivals in the spring, but he decided to give his gelding plenty of time to overcome the illness he contracted in the winter and Samcro has also undergone a wind-op during the summer. Once he returns to full strength and he’s pointed at a fence for the first time in competition, I have no doubts that the real Samcro will stand up and be counted. You better be ready to cash in!
A bidding war ensued after Wide Receiver was paraded in-front of prospective bidders at Cheltenham’s sales event back in February. Harold Kirk – acting on behalf of Rich Ricci – was keen to acquire this strapping son of Sholokhov, but it was Tom Malone and Gordon Elliott who eventually prevailed, spending £410k to bring Wide Receiver to County Meath. An easy eight-length winner on his only start between the flags, he could be another who ends up in the Champion bumper come the end of the season and he’s an exciting prospect to follow over the coming years.