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Cotswold Chase an option for Gerri Colombe with Gordon Elliott expecting 'big improvement'

Gerri Colombe: made a winning seasonal debut at Down Royal
Gerri Colombe: on his way to winning the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down RoyalCredit: Patrick McCann

Gordon Elliott expects Gerri Colombe to step up significantly from his winning reappearance in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal and he could run next in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January if the ground were too lively for him at Leopardstown over Christmas.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup second favourite, who is priced between 7-2 and 5-1, will have one more run before the big one in March and that outing is expected to be in the Savills Chase on day three of Leopardstown's Christmas festival.

If the ground is not on the soft side there, though, the Grade 2 won by Ahoy Senor last year has been nominated as a possible alternative.

Elliott said: "Gerri Colombe will be in the Savills and, if the ground was safe, he could go there. There is the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January too, if not. We have all those sort of options for him. He doesn't mind nice ground, but you just wouldn't want to be chancing him on it at that time of year."

On his expectations for the prolific seven-year-old, he added: "He will come on an awful lot for that run at Down Royal. He was only back cantering since the middle of September and Jack [Kennedy] said he had a proper blow and there is plenty of improvement in him.

"I was impressed when he went by the line, obviously my heart was in my mouth before then. The one thing about him is that he has that will to win. That's a great attribute to have."

Conflated: Savills Chase winner is set to run in the Irish Gold Cup next
Conflated: Savills Chase on his agendaCredit: Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

The Savills Chase is most certainly on Conflated's agenda. He will be back to defend his crown and that will determine which route he goes for the rest of the campaign.

Elliott said: "Conflated ran a great race going the wrong way at Down Royal. He will go to Leopardstown at Christmas and that will tell us whether to go to the Gold Cup or down the cross-country route."

Pied Piper is set to take on the Closutton camp in Saturday's Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown, but Elliott is well aware of the challenge facing him against State Man.

He said: "Pied Piper will go for the Morgiana. Obviously Willie's [Mullins] will be hard to beat, but he's not an easy horse to plan and he's had a good run on the Flat in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket so we'll give it a go."

Impaire Et Passe is expected to be Mullins' main representative in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday week but Elliott didn't rule out aiming two of his best hurdlers at last year's Ballymore winner in the shape of Teahupoo, who won the race in 2022, and Irish Point.

The trainer said: "Irish Point was good at Down Royal. He's probably a hard horse to place. He's in the Hatton's Grace and I wouldn't be surprised if he ran in the race. I think he will stay three miles but I don't know if I want him to go up to three miles so soon in his career.

"Teahupoo is in great form, he's very well. He's in the Hatton's Grace. He was unlucky not to win the Stayers' Hurdle and if he improved 5lb or 6lb he will be right in the mix again."

Read these next:

'We didn't stop any horse running' - Gordon Elliott defends decision to run 14 in Navan's Troytown Chase 

'The sky is the limit' - Gerri Colombe rallies in dramatic fashion to keep Gold Cup dream alive 

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David JenningsDeputy Ireland editor

Published on 20 November 2023inIreland

Last updated 20:21, 20 November 2023