Elliott firms up novice plans

22 February 2019 02:26:08 EST

Gordon Elliott has kicked off the process of picking his targets for his leading novice hurdlers with the Cheltenham Festival now a little over a fortnight away.

The Cullentra handler was leading trainer at the meeting last year and will have a battalion of contenders travelling from Ireland for the four-day extravaganza in the Cotswolds once more.

He lacks a bit of experience, but I think the race will suit him.

Gordon Elliott

Having won the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle last year with Samcro, Elliott's leading hope this time around appears to be 11/4 chance Battleoverdoyen.

He's unbeaten so far and was last spotted winning a 2m4f Grade One at Naas in January. Also a point-to-point and bumper winner, Elliott feels the Ballymore over 2m5f is the perfect target and suggests the six-year-old can defy his relative inexperience.

"I didn't run him at the Dublin Racing Festival, because I just felt he'd had three runs in six to eight weeks," said Elliott at a press visit to his stables.

"He's in good form - he's well - and jumps very well. He lacks a bit of experience, but I think the race will suit him. He'll go for the Ballymore."

One horse that did run that Dublin Racing Festival was Commander Of Fleet. His sole defeat came in a two-mile Grade One at Fairyhouse in December, but he was most impressive in scoring over 2m6f at Leopardstown this month.

Three miles in the Albert Bartlett is the Cheltenham challenge for Commander Of Fleet and he is 4/1 to score on 15th March.

"He won the Grade One in Leopardstown the last day, and I think three-miles in the Albert Bartlett will suit him," added Elliott. "He ran well in the Royal Bond over two-miles against a few good horses, but the trip was just too short.

"He's a nice horse. I suppose the one negative with him is he lacks a bit of experience, but we might get a school in somewhere between now and then."

Elliott, meanwhile, is 2/1 to be leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival for the second year running, with Nicky Henderson priced at 2/1.

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