Gordon Elliott will be hoping that there is a genuine Sky
Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle among the eight he has entered for the Grade 2 Sky
Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday.
This race has previously acted as a notable trial for the
Supreme Novices Hurdle with Douvan and Vautour both winning before bagging the
Cheltenham Festival curtain raiser while the 2016 winner Min went on to chase
home Altior on his next start.
Elliott has yet to win this race but is hoping that will
change on Sunday although his plans for the weekend have yet to be finalised.
Speaking yesterday, he said, “We’ve made plenty of entries and we’ll just see
how things go later in the week. It was a pity Commander Of Fleet had to miss
the Grade 1 at Naas on Sunday but I’m looking forward to getting him back to
the track and he could easily go to Punchestown this weekend.
“I’d say we’ll definitely run a couple in the race and Felix
Desjy is another that could go there. Things haven’t worked out for him since
he won his maiden hurdle at Galway, but I thought his last run in Limerick was
more encouraging and there is more to come from him over hurdles,” he
Willie Mullins has won five of the last six renewals of the
Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle and his trio of entries are headed by
Buildmeupbuttercup which looked a mare with a big future over jumps when
accounting for 28 rivals in a Navan maiden hurdle a month ago.
Jessica Harrington’s challenge is headed by Press Conference
which defeated the long-time Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle fancy Annamix in a
maiden hurdle at Limerick over Christmas. “Press Conference is in terrific form
since his win at Limerick and I would love to run him in the Sky Bet Moscow
Flyer Hurdle but I'm just waiting for some rain to arrive. Jetez will
definitely run. We were very pleased with him getting back to winning ways at
Leopardstown last time. Jetez might not be a Grade 1 horse yet but he is going
that direction,” said Harrington.
Sunday’s card at Punchestown also features the Grade 3 Total
Event Rental Novice Chase where the exciting A Plus Tard could bid to make it
two wins from three starts since joining Henry de Bromhead. The Cheveley Park
Stud-owned French import has had this race as his aim since scoring at Naas
last month. Winter Escape gave trainer Aidan Howard the biggest success of his
training career when landing a Grade 3 at Cork two months ago, is another
likely contender while Gordon Elliott is again well represented with six
“We will just wait until later in the week before making up
our minds, but I’ll certainly run a few here,” commented Elliott. “Things haven’t
worked out for Ben Dundee on his last couple of runs but he was a very good
winner of his beginners’ chase over this course and distance in November and
his performance that day suggested that he had a big future over jumps.
“Of the others Blow By Blow came back to form with a solid
run in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown and I’m looking forward to moving Gun Digger
up in grade as he’s progressing well with racing and I think he is going to be
a much better chaser than a hurdler,” added Elliott.
This race could also attract Jessica Harrington’s Jetz which
has contested Grade 1 events on his last two outings. His third to the
subsequent Grade 1 winners Le Richebourg and Delta Work in the Drinmore Novice
Chase at Fairyhouse is a particularly strong piece of form.
Harrington added: “Jetz is very well and the intention would
be for him to run at Punchestown. The trip and the ground should suit him, and
we would be hoping that he could repeat the level of form he showed us in the