Ladbrokes Champion Chase (Grade 1)

GORDON Elliott’s triple Grade 1-winning novice from last season, Gerri Colombe, stepped into open company and enhanced his Gold Cup credentials in beating Envoi Allen and Conflated by a neck and a length over the three-mile trip in the Down Royal feature.

It was not all plain sailing for the Robcour-owned gelding as he raced on the outside of the four runners, hit the third fence and had to contend with Conflated jumping out to his left throughout.

Conflated and Sam Ewing made the running with Rachael Blackmore sitting last on last year’s Ryanair Chase winner Envoi Allen, looking for his second win in the race and fifth at this meeting.

When the pace quickened after three out, Gerri Colombe was initially outpaced and was then carried left by Conflated racing to the second last. At the same time Blackmore nipped through on the inner on Envoi Allen in what looked a race winning move.

The favourite jumped the last in only third place after he had to be switched right. Envoi Allen couldn’t open distance though and when asked by Jack Kennedy, Gerri Colombe stayed on well towards the far side and just got up to lead in the final strides.

Gordon Elliott said afterwards: “We were delighted with him - we knew there would be improvement in him today, his first run in open company. He only came back in on September 19th so there’s loads of improvement Jack says.

“We’ll have one run now and then the Gold Cup. He showed that he is in the mix now for the Gold Cup, he stays very well and that’s what you need.

Into a rhythm

“I was delighted that he settled into a rhythm, the other horse (Conflated) was going a bit left and was taking Jack’s horse’s eye off the fence a bit. I was a bit worried the whole way because Conflated does go left, but I did tell Jack to give him a bit of light and get him into a rhythm.

“Jack said he was a bit rusty early, but I thought he was pretty much foot-perfect apart from one for a novice stepping into open company.

“He’s a great horse because he shows you absolutely nothing at home - he’s very laid-back, he’s a gentleman.

“We were all gutted coming out of Cheltenham last year, it just didn’t happen for us on the day but, in fairness to Brian [Acheson], he said ‘we will be back here in 12 months time’.

“Willie’s horse (Mullins, Galopin Des Champs) is very, very good but this horse has a great attitude and, as I said, he is only back in eight weeks. That’s why I think three miles two is going to suit him perfectly.

“I haven’t even thought about it (Savills Chase at Leopardstown), I’ll go home and I’ll talk to Brian and Ryan McElligott and we will make a plan.” The King George was dismissed as a target.

Best horse

Brian Acheson said: “I thought he was beaten three or four times over. In March we have to come up against the best horse I think since Kauto Star in Galopin (Des Champs) and a lot of water under the bridge until then. He [Galopin Des Champs] is a rocket. Let’s try and get to March first and then we’ll worry about it.

“It’s great for yer man (Elliott), he always said ‘we will be fine for Down Royal’. The horse is back in eight weeks and he was in Puppy Power’s for six weeks doing dressage and stuff like that. That horse will come a tonne from that.”

Easy for Ash Tree

The Elliott and Kennedy winning afternoon continued in the other feature, the Grade 2 Chase where Galway Plate winner Ash Tree Meadow ran out an impressive 25-length winner from his sole rival Visionarian after Feronily had been withdrawn with an injury.

On his fifth winner of the day, Elliott said: “I don’t think he wants winter heavy ground. We didn’t put him in the John Durkan.

“We will probably give him a break now as he has been in all summer and we will train him back for some of the Grand Nationals next year.

“We were going to go to the American Grand National with him, but he is a French-bred and couldn’t go with his bloods.”

On five winners here and two in Gowran Park, Gordon Elliott said: “A great day but, as I said before, I am very lucky with the horses I have and all the staff. I’m delighted for all the owners too.”

Clonmeen ends the Elliott run

THE three-mile Eventsec Handicap Chase was the only race affected by the low sun with the last three fences not jumped.

It went to William Murphy’s 5/1 shot Clonmeen who held off favourite Cave Court by a length and a quarter with the Elliott-trained Reddys Island in third.

Winning rider Simon Torrens said: “We’ve always liked him. He has burst with me in the past and, in fairness to Willie (Murphy) and his team at home, they have given him a break and have brought him back.

“Whatever they are doing, I don’t think they are galloping him as much. It seems to be working.

“With the last three fences being out, I thought that might be our only issue because he is very good to leap.

“The boys got racing at the back of the third last and I was able to sit in behind. When I saw them getting racing, I thought I would bide my time in behind and do them late on and it worked out.

“He had some very good runs in novice chases and graded chases, so hopefully he can be a nice handicapper.”

Big day for Dee

Gordon Elliott was expected to win the closing Ladbrokes (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race but his 4/5 favourite Cleatus Poolaw had no answer to impressive four-length winner Big Dee in the colours of Sean Maguire.

Trainer Eoin McCarthy said of the four-year-old son of Vadamos: “Nothing really went to plan in the bumper at Listowel (second), they went no gallop and we just got outsprinted. He was just green and babyish.

“He learned from that experience on a big galloping track here and he settled much better for the experience.

“For a yard like mine, I’d hate to see him go - he’s what we are looking for. I’d say he will stay the bumper route for now anyway.

“He’s a light-framed horse, so he probably won’t be out again for another while. He’s a lovely horse going forward. He jumps like a buck, he has been away schooling hurdles.”

Memory is one to keep in the mind

DOWN Memory Lane (2/7 favourite) looked a horse destined for better things when he ran out an easy three-length winner under a confident Derek O’Connor of the two miles and a furlong Tayto Group Maiden Hurdle, winning from two outsiders.

Gordon Elliott said afterwards: “Derek was very happy but look it wasn’t a wonderful race on paper, so you would be disappointed if he didn’t do that. I liked what I saw there.

“We’ll get him home and see how he is and make a plan, I think we’ll stick to two miles at the moment.

When asked about the Grade 1 Royal Bond entry, he replied: “He has loads of boot and Derek seemed to be fairly happy, and he doesn’t say much, so he looks a good one.”

Part three of the Gordon Elliott five-timer came in the third race, the Listed Haslem Hotel Handicap Hurdle when 7lb claimer Carl Miller came out on top on Magic Tricks (5/1) beating two better fancied rivals, favourite The Model Kingdom and Foxy Girl, by two lengths and two lengths.

Got a chance

Gordon Elliott said: “Carl gave him a nice ride, he’s got a chance this young lad. He’s with us a couple of years and he has waited his turn and is working hard.

“He was riding ponies around Dublin two years ago and has come on a long way. He’s going to get plenty of chances. In fairness, he did exactly what we told him to do.

“He (Magic Tricks) has had a few problems, but it is great to do that. Cheekpieces might have helped him today.

“If he didn’t win today, I was going to go chasing with him but I don’t know now - we’ll see.”

Lengthy battle

In the opener, Wodhooh (1/4 favourite) emerged from a lengthy battle with Cossack Chach to continue the Elliott winning run from the Friday in winning the two miles and a furlong Lisburn And Castlereagh City Council 3-Y-O Hurdle by a neck.

Gordon Elliott said of the Sundowners Partnership daughter of Le Havre: “She’s tough and he (Jack Kennedy) said it probably would have suited more if they had gone faster. He said he was kind of on his own in front and she was looking around her.

“She’s tough, she has won three now and she hasn’t done anything wrong.

“She did (have to jump well today), she has learned more from today probably than she has in her last couple of runs.

“She will probably go to Newbury now for the listed hurdle on the December 5th.”