Home to so
many of jump racing’s superstars, Gordon Elliott’s Cullentra yard was the
fitting venue for the launch of the 2019/2020 National Hunt season in County
Meath on Thursday morning.
one of the biggest days of the year at Navan on Sunday, the course’s Ladbrokes
Troytown Chase Day on November 24 and the Bar One Winter Racing Festival at
Fairyhouse on November 30 and December 1 were also very much on the mind of the
season’s leading trainer.
The Grade 2
TheTote.com Fortria Chase and the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle share top billing at
Navan on Sunday where Elliott’s star mare Apple’s Jade will bid for a third
straight win in the latter before heading to Fairyhouse early next month for
the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, a race that she has captured for the past three
seasons. In all, she is a 10-time Grade 1 winner.
currently three-handed in the Grade 2 TheTote.com Fortria Chase with Hardline,
Duca De Thaix and Doctor Phoenix all holding entries for a race he won with
Clarcam in 2017. Subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Labaik and Mengli Khan
have given Elliott wins in the For Auction Novice Hurdle and he looks set to
rely on the impressive Gowran Park maiden hurdle scorer Abacadabras in this
year’s renewal of Sunday’s Grade 3 event.
Troytown Chase Day is close to Elliott’s heart, he trained six of the seven
winners on the day in 2016, including Empire Of Dirt, who along with Balbriggan
(2014), Riverside City (2015) and Mala Beach two years ago have all won the
prestigious handicap chase for the 41-year-old.
for 12 of the 37 entries, Elliott’s team for the €100,000 event is headed by
Borice, winner of TheTote.com Galway Plate and the narrow Guinness Kerry
National runner-up Ravenhill. Weights for the Ladbrokes Troytown Handicap Chase
will be released on Monday at 2pm
said: “We’ll support Navan throughout the season and we have a good few to run
in the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase. The Grade 2 Navan Novice Hurdle over two and a
half miles in the middle of December is a race that we tend to target some of
our best staying novice hurdlers at and that will be the case again this year.”
became the first trainer to capture all three Grade 1s on the card at the
Winter Festival at Fairyhouse in 2017. History was made as he won the BARONERACING.COM Royal Bond Novice Hurdle with Mengli
Khan, the BARONERACING.COM Hatton's Grace Hurdle with Apple's Jade and the BARONERACING.COM
Drinmore Novice Chase with Death Duty.
He won two
of the three races again last year, with Apple’s Jade landing the Grade 1 BARONERACING.COM
Hatton's Grace Hurdle for the third straight year and she remains on target for
fourth crack at the race. Elliott has also entered the recent Down Royal
runner-up Coko Beach which would be stepping up in distance and the Wexford mares’
hurdle winner, Surin.
continued: “Apple’s Jade will run in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan on Sunday.
She’s in good form and Navan is the ideal place for her to start off the
season. It’s a great track and she has won this race for the last two years and
while she is not getting any younger, she has been working well and that is the
plan for her. After Navan, she’ll be back to Fairyhouse for the
BARONERACING.COM Hatton’s Grace Hurdle.”
is Gordon’s only previous winner of the Grade 1 BARONERACING.COM Royal Bond
Novice Hurdle and he is responsible for seven of the 40 entries for next
month’s renewal. The unbeaten Envoi Allen features after last weekend’s maiden
hurdle win at Down Royal and also among the Cullentra entries are Abacadabras
and the promising bumper winner, Andy Dufresne.
Allen was very good when he won over hurdles at the weekend at Down Royal. He
has come out of that race well and we are looking at the Royal Bond at
Fairyhouse for him.”
BARONERACING.COM Drinmore Novice Chase has been good to Gordon over the years. Jessies
Dream gave him his first Grade 1 success in the race in 2010 and he has won it
five times in all, including with Death Duty and Delta Work in the last two
years. He has made nine entries this time, a formidable team that is headed by
Samcro, Battleoverdoyen and Champagne Classic.
delighted with Samcro when he won over fences at Down Royal at the weekend and
Keith Donoghue was very impressed with him. The BARONERACING.COM Drinmore
Novice Chase looks the obvious race to go for with him now and of course the
likes of Battleoverdoyen and Champagne Classic are very much in the mix as
well. That day at Fairyhouse is one we always look forward to.”
Racecourse Manager, Peter Killeen, said: “It’s that time of year again when the
team at Navan are gearing up for what is our busiest period and with the
quality of the entries for our Fortria Chase Day next Sunday, we are certainly
getting off to a flying start. The reappearance of the top horses such as Apple’s
Jade and Douvan would certainly have our turnstiles clicking.
Fortria is quickly followed by our flagship Ladbrokes Troytown Day on November
24 and that leads into our two December fixtures on the 7th and 15th. It’s
appropriate that we are here in Gordon’s for our launch as he is closing in on
a century of National Hunt winners at Navan which I’m sure we won’t have to
hold our breath too long for.”
Manager of Fairyhouse Racecourse, said: “We have a huge season ahead of us at
Fairyhouse as we celebrate the 150th running of BoyleSports Irish Grand
National next April. Of course, the first big meeting of the season is our
Winter Festival and we are delighted with the strength in depth of the entries
for our three Bar One Racing-sponsored Grade 1 races on Sunday, December 1.
meeting is widely accepted as being the highlight of the pre-Christmas action
when many of the stars put their reputation on the line. The fixture has
developed due to the support of Barney O’Hare and Bar One Racing and this year
we could possibly have the best fixture in memory as Apple’s Jade bids for a
historic four-in-a-row in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle.”