Gerri Colombe will have Leopardstown or Cheltenham next on the agenda as Gordon Elliott eyes one more run before a shot at the Gold Cup in March.
Beaten only once in six starts over the larger obstacles, the stamina of Gordon Elliott’s seven-year-old came to the fore when making a winning return at Down Royal earlier this month.
Now he has either the Savills Chase – the traditional Christmas destination for Ireland’s top staying chasers – or the Cotswold Chase on Festival Trials Day on January 27 as his big-race options in preparation for his main March objective.
Elliott said: “He’s in the Savills and that will be depending on ground. If the ground is safe he would go there, but if not he could go to Cheltenham at the end of January. We have all those options.
“He doesn’t actually mind nice ground, but you wouldn’t want to be chancing it at that time of year.”
On his Down Royal comeback, Elliott added: “He will have come on an awful lot for Down Royal. He’s only been back cantering since the middle of September and Jack (Kennedy) said he was proper blowing. There will be loads of improvement in him.
“I was impressed with him by the line, but my heart was in my mouth. Speaking to Jack after you would have to be happy. I suppose the one thing he has is the will to win. He wants to win and that is a great attribute to have, you know.”
Gerri Colombe finds himself as short of 7-2 for the Cheltenham blue riband, a race where he could come up against Charlie Hall Chase winner Gentlemansgame who is also owned by Brian Acheson’s Robcour operation.
Although available at much bigger odds than Gerri Colombe, Elliott believes Mouse Morris’ charge warrants plenty of respect having claimed the scalp of Paul Nicholls’ Bravemansgame at Wetherby.
“I will worry about Gerri and Mouse will worry about Gentlemansgame,” added Elliott.
“He’s a good horse and I don’t think he’s getting the credit he deserves at the moment. For what he’s done on his third or fourth run over fences, I was impressed with him anyway.”
It is still to be decided if Gerri Colombe will be joined by last year’s third Conflated in the Gold Cup in March, with Elliott toying with the idea of switching the Gigginstown House Stud-owned nine-year-old to the cross-country sphere.
“I imagine he will go Leopardstown (Savills Chase) and then we will decide whether we go Gold Cup or cross-country at Cheltenham,” said Elliott.
“We’ve schooled him to go cross-country. It didn’t surprise me (when third at Down Royal behind Gerri Colombe) and I knew there was more improvement to come from Punchestown, so it didn’t shock me. He’s a good horse, he was third in the Gold Cup last year.”
If heading down the cross-country route, Conflated would be adding to a strong hand Elliott possesses in a race he has dominated in recent years at the Cheltenham Festival.
He won it last year with Delta Work, with Galvin another of Elliott’s string poised to navigate the twists and turns of the cross-country track in March. However, the defending champion Delta Work finished lame when when reappearing at Prestbury Park last Friday.
“He’s lame, it’s nothing serious, but you can see that half way through the race his jumping went to pot,” said Elliott.
“We’ll get him back and train him for Cheltenham. He will probably go for a hurdle race in February and then onto Cheltenham for the cross-country race off level weights.”