Gordon Elliott opened up his stables to the media yesterday to speak about his Cheltenham Festival squad, and the Irish handler announced that he could have in excess of 50 runners at the Prestbury Park extravaganza, with a multitude of his contenders in with a major chance of bagging glory.
We have delved through his potential Cheltenham team and picked out THREE runners that can blossom at GL50 between March 12-15 and hand him a trio of victories at the National Hunt showpiece.
Abracadabras - Champion Bumper
Elliott will have a strong brigade lining up in the Champion Bumper and most eyes will be on Envoi Allen, who is currently favourite for the second day finale, but he could find it tough to frank the form with stablemate Abracadabras, who ran out when looking beat by Envoi Allen at Leopardstown earlier this month.
Inexperience could've been the factor for Abracadabras running out at Leopardstown with Elliott suggesting the whip could've spooked him, but he was catching the eye in the closing stages of that Leopardstown contest, and he should improve for that experience, so has to be considered a lively contender for the Bumper and he can bag the coveted Flat prize.
Commander Of Fleet - Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
Tapped for toe when last of four in the 2m Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse, Commander Of Fleet showed when winning a Grade 1 at the Dublin Racing Festival over 2m 6f that he will be a different proposition when upped in trip.
The Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle looks tailor-made for the five-year-old son of Fame And Glory, and while Elliott is slightly anxious that the lack of experience could hinder his chances, he showed that he oozes stamina when winning the Nathaniel Lacy Novice Hurdle last month, and a step up to three miles should see him improve further.
A current minefield for punters, the Albert Bartlett is a wide open race three weeks away from the festival, but Commander Of Fleet can continue on an upward curve and at around the 8/1 mark he can hand Elliott his first win in the race.
Dallas Des Pictons - Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle
Gordon Elliott tasted victory in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle 12 months ago with Champagne Classic and he can emulate his big rival Willie Mullins on March 15 by becoming the second person to retain the coveted contest.
The Martin Pipe is now the last race of the whole meeting and Elliott's Dallas Des Pictons has been hugely progressive this season as having won a maiden hurdle at Punchestown in January, he then went on to edge out Calie Du Mesnil in the William Fry Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown at the start of February.
His mark of 141 should see him secure a spot in the race comfortably, and while Elliott has already indicated that he will run five or six in the race it's Dallas Des Pictons that has the most scope to go on to bigger and better things, and while he is the 9/2 ante-post favourite for the race he's entitled to be heading the market for a horse oozing potential.