GORDON Elliott emerged with a respectable tally of three winners from last year’s Cheltenham Festival, but you get the sense it could have been a much bigger haul had the ball bounced a little differently on the biggest week of the season.

Down his stable jockey through an injury to Jack Kennedy, Davy Russell returned to the fold for one last dance but it wasn’t to be a fairytale finish for him at the Festival despite going close on several occasions.

Jazzy Matty, Delta Work and Sire Du Berlais got the Cullentra team on the scoresheet, though there was no shortage of crossbar-hitting to go with the joy.

Pied Piper looked the winner all over in the County Hurdle but nodded on landing at the last and Russell stood himself down just a race later due to soreness, Gerri Colombe probably would have won the Brown Advisory with another stride or two, Chemical Energy found only one too good in the National Hunt Chase, Salvador Ziggy bumped into the attractively-handicapped Good Time Jonny in the Pertemps Final and Mighty Potter - a banker of the week for many - hung right late on and lost a shoe when failing to deliver his best in the Turners.

Riviere D’etel was still travelling comfortably when falling at the third-last in the Mares’ Chase, The Goffer, who his trainer feels arrived on the scene too soon, ran a big race to finish fourth in the Ultima behind three handicap blots - Corach Rambler, Fastorslow and Monbeg Genius - while there were admirable championship race thirds for Zanahiyr (Champion Hurdle), Queens Brook (Mares’ Hurdle) and Conflated (Gold Cup). Halka Du Tabert was a highly eyecatching third in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle too.

All told, Elliott’s Cheltenham troops of 2023 represented him creditably at Prestbury Park and the closing tally of winners could easily have been higher.

He has no odds-on chances at this stage for the 2024 meeting but there are clearly plenty of openings for him to exceed last year’s total.

As Elliott sums it up himself: “We’re probably a bit under the radar this year. We haven’t got as many standout horses but when you go down through them, we’ve got plenty of chances.”

American Mike

Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase/Turners Novices’ Chase

I thought three miles was going to be too far for him but there’s a chance we could supplement him for the Brown Advisory. He’s frustrating but he has a massive engine.

Beacon Edge

Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle

I’m not sure he’s in love with massive fields so he might run in the Stayers’ Hurdle. He wasn’t beaten far in the Boyne Hurdle last time.

Better Days Ahead

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

He has probably bumped into a couple of good horses since winning his maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse. He had to give Willie’s horse [Asian Master] a lot of weight at Navan last time. I’d say the Martin Pipe is where he’ll go. He’ll run well.


Ryanair Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

We think she’s very good. Shane McCann rides her every day. He’s as good a judge as we have here, and he says she could be as good as we’ve had here. That includes everything we’ve had before. She’s going the right way, knows how to win, has got a good attitude, is not flashy, but we like what she does. She pleases the whole time. With the owners that have her, I’d imagine she will go over fences next season. She’s got a great chance.

Cleatus Poolaw

Pertemps Final

He ran well last Sunday in the Pertemps Qualifier at Naas. We were under pressure to qualify him. I think he would have learned a lot from Sunday’s race. The Final is probably not as good a race as it used to be, for whatever reason. You look at Delta Work, Sire Du Berlais, they’re proper Grade 1 horses who won it before. In my mind, it’s not as strong a race nowadays, but maybe I’m wrong.

Coko Beach

Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase

He pops up every year and wins one. He’ll go for the Cross Country. The softer the ground, the better his chance.


Ryanair Chase

In his last two runs, he unshipped his jockey at the last, but he was actually running a good race both days. I think he’ll go for the Ryanair. There’s always been a quirk in him, right from day one, but he has a big engine.

Cool Survivor

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase/Ultima Handicap Chase/TrustATrader Plate

He had a good run at the Dublin Racing Festival but didn’t get the run of the race. He’ll run in the Kim Muir, the Ultima or the Plate. At this moment in time, I’d nearly run him in the Kim Muir because if you get a good jockey, it’s half the battle.

Croke Park

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle/Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle

He was lame after the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle last time, but he’s in good form now. He’s probably more of a chaser. He stays very well, it’s just whether he’s classy enough to win an Albert Bartlett, I don’t know.

Delta Work

Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase

He’s just coming. He’s only been trained for two races all year, Cheltenham and Aintree. He worked well at Fairyhouse the other day, and I’m very happy with him. He’s moving well, in great form.

Fil Dor

Ryanair Chase

His two runs this year, at Naas behind Dinoblue, and at Cork behind El Fabiolo, were very good. I think the step up in trip will suit him in the Ryanair, and he’s got an each-way chance. He has to improve but he’s going the right way. It wouldn’t shock me if Jack [Kennedy] decided to ride Conflated or him in the Ryanair.


Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

We worked him at Naas a couple of weeks ago and he got a bit tired. We hadn’t worked him in five weeks, since he ran, and he got tired, but he worked very well the other morning. He has two more bits of work to do, and he’s a very nice horse, but he wasn’t right after Naas so he’s not without his chance in the Supreme. We’ve gone close with lesser horses. Ballyburn looks very, very good, and looks like he’s going the right way. Firefox is more of a two-miler than a two-and-a-half-mile horse, the way he travels.

Firm Footings

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase/TrustATrader Plate

He didn’t run a bad race in last year’s Martin Pipe [when sixth to Iroko] and he’ll go for the Kim Muir or the Plate.

Found A Fifty

My Pension Expert Arkle Novices’ Chase

The Arkle is the plan. He did nothing wrong at the Dublin Racing Festival only that he got beaten. I think he’s maturing the whole time. He was more mature the second day than he was the first day at Leopardstown. There is a little kink in him, but he’s got an engine.


Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase

He ran very well in the Boyne Hurdle [when fourth]. I think he’s in as good form going there this year as he was last year. He looks strong but if there isn’t ‘good’ in the ground in the Cross Country, I won’t run him, I’ll go straight for the National.

Gerri Colombe

Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup

He’s in good form. I think Galopin Des Champs has been awesome this year. I don’t know how we’re going to beat him, but we’re better than we were at Leopardstown the last day. For me, he didn’t run his race that day. He wouldn’t have been second in another hundred yards. I think the better the ground, the better the chance he has. He’s not flashy, but he looks great and he’s in great form. Jack said that on the day at Leopardstown, the ground was bad enough down the back and he didn’t feel like he was in love with it.


St. James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase

He’s got an entry but he’s going to have to improve on his point-to-point form. He finished second during the week in a hunter chase at Leicester.

Hollow Games

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

I’m going to run him back over hurdles. He ran well in the Martin Pipe in 2022 and I’m going to go back there. He just lost his confidence over fences. If you go back to his run in the Galway Plate or the Martin Pipe, he has a chance. He was unlucky in this race in 2022 when he came home strongly [for third].

Irish Point

Unibet Champion Hurdle/Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle

Where he goes is the million-dollar question. If the ground came up soft, it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that I could run him in the Champion Hurdle but, at the moment, the Stayers’ is where he’s going. He’s very laid back, and I don’t think the trip will be a problem, but we’ll leave it until the last minute.

Jalon D’oudairies

Weatherbys Champion Bumper

He’s a nice horse and has a good attitude. He’s one of those horses who wants to win. I’d imagine we’ll run three in the bumper: him, Romeo Coolio and The Yellow Clay.


Coral Cup/Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

He’ll go for the Coral Cup or the Martin Pipe. He had a good run the last day, over two miles at Punchestown [when third to Tullyhill]. Jack said he was going as hard as he wanted to the whole way, and he made a mistake at the second last. I think he’d have been a nice second only for he made that mistake. The step up in trip will suit him. We had to get a run in to him to qualify for handicaps.

King Of Kingsfield

County Handicap Hurdle/Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Jack is very keen for me to run him in the County. He’s staying better than he used to, and he’s settling better. The County Hurdle could be made for him.


Coral Cup/Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

He ran well again on Sunday at Naas [when sixth in the Pertemps Qualifier], but the handicapper probably has him where he wants him. He’ll run in one of the handicaps.

Mel Monroe

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

She’s got blacktype and could be good enough to be placed in the Martin Pipe.

My Trump Card

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

He’s not as slow as you think, and he has a massive engine, but he’d need to jump better than he has in his last couple of runs. He’s schooling well at home and is a big chaser, but he does stay well. He’ll go for the Albert Bartlett.


Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

We have 10 horses entered in the Boodles, including Ndaawi. I thought he was good last time in a maiden hurdle at Naas. We like him.

Party Central

County Handicap Hurdle

I’d imagine she’ll run in the County Hurdle if the ground is good, but if it’s not, she won’t, and we’ll keep her for Fairyhouse or Aintree.

Pied Piper

County Handicap Hurdle

The Irish handicapper has dropped him 2lb since the start of the season, and his British mark is 1lb higher than is the case at home. He was unlucky in the County Hurdle last year [when second], and I’d imagine we’ll claim off him in the same race this year. Danny Gilligan could take 5lb off.


TrustATrader Plate

He ran very well in the Leopardstown Chase last time at the Dublin Racing Festival [when second]. I’d imagine he’ll go for the Plate.

Riviere D’etel

Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase

I think she’s overpriced at 20/1 for the Mares’ Chase. She goes there in good form. We’ll freshen her up and go straight there to Cheltenham.

Romeo Coolio

Weatherbys Champion Bumper

He pulled a muscle and we didn’t get to run him earlier in the season. Then I put myself under pressure to run him, so he’d have come on a stone from his first run at Fairyhouse. I think he’s a good horse, and we haven’t missed a beat with him since he ran. He’s in good form now and we’re happy with him.

Sa Fureur

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase

He ran a nice race behind Quilixios at Naas the last day. He’s in good form and the Grand Annual has been the plan we’ve had in mind.

Saint Felicien

TrustATrader Plate/Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase

I don’t know if he’ll have the pace for two miles so he could go for the Plate. He’s one of those horses who is coming on at the right time. He’s got experience in good beginners’ chases.

Salvador Ziggy

National Hunt Novices’ Chase

He’s got loads of experience, and is a second-season novice, which I think is key in a race like the National Hunt Chase. The better the ground, the better the chance he’d have.


St. James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase

We’ve given him an entry for the race but he needs to step up on his point-to-point form.

Search For Glory

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle/Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

He’ll go for the Albert Bartlett, but he’s in the Martin Pipe as well. He’s not flashy but I thought he showed a good attitude the last day when winning at Clonmel.

Sire Du Berlais

Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle

He’s been the horse of a lifetime for us and worked very well last Saturday. He likes it when the sun comes out and seems to like Cheltenham as well. To be honest, we nearly have to ride him out twice a day and swim him twice a day to keep the weight off him because he’s that laidback.

Stellar Story

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle/Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

I’d imagine he’ll run in the Martin Pipe, but he’ll have to improve a little bit from his last runs.


Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle

He’s in good form, we’re very happy with him. We’re going straight from the Hatton’s Grace to the Stayers’. I’ll be shocked if Jack doesn’t ride him. He’s a proven stayer. We minded him for the race, and I’d imagine we’ll go here and might go to France with him afterwards.

The Goffer

Ultima Handicap Chase

Emma [Gilligan] gave him a lovely prep the other day when winning the race for stable staff at Punchestown. He runs well fresh, and he ran very well in the Ultima last year. Davy [Russell] hit the front a mile too soon on him and he was probably a bit unlucky in it. I’m looking forward to running in the Ultima again.

The Yellow Clay

Weatherbys Champion Bumper

I think he’s going to Cheltenham under the radar. He was declared for a bumper at Down Royal in November but he wasn’t right on the day before and we ended up missing a month with him. He came on an awful lot from the Dublin Racing Festival. He mightn’t have beaten the winner but could have been a good second if he got a run. It wouldn’t shock me if Jack rode him.

Three Card Brag

National Hunt Chase

I’d imagine he’ll go for the Irish National, but he’s still in the National Hunt Chase.

Western Fold

Coral Cup/Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

He’s entered in a couple of handicaps. We’ll take a look at the weights and make our minds up then.

What’s Up Darling

Coral Cup/Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

He was second in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle, beaten by a good mare of Henry de Bromhead’s [Lantry Lady]. We needed to run him again to get a mark, and I’d imagine he’ll run in the Coral Cup or the Martin Pipe. Jack said he wasn’t in love with the ground the other day, so a bit of better ground will suit him.


Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

I’d imagine it’s the Boodles. I think she could be well handicapped. She doesn’t do anything fancy, but knows how to win.


Turners Novices’ Chase

I thought he showed a good attitude to win the last day at Thurles. He had a good run first time up over fences at Leopardstown behind Fact To File, and the better the ground the better his chance. He runs well at Cheltenham and might go to the Turners.