Dual Festival winner heads Elliott’s attack on Christmas Hurdle

Sire Du Berlais spearheads a triple assault on the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle for trainer Gordon Elliott.

The Cullentra handler saddled the brilliant mare Apple’s Jade to claim this Grade One prize in each of the past three seasons and appears intent on adding to his tally on Monday.

The JP McManus-owned Sire Du Berlais is the narrow favourite. The eight-year-old is a dual winner of the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival and made a flying start to the current campaign with victory in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan last month.

He is joined by Fury Road, who also impressed on his reappearance at Punchestown, as well as The Storyteller, who reverts to the smaller obstacles after winning the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal.

“Fury Road was a really good staying novice and the form of his Albert Bartlett third at Cheltenham looks strong. I’m hoping he will make up into a strong Stayers’ Hurdle contender in the spring,” Elliott told Betfair.

“Sire Du Berlais is heading down the Stayers’ route after winning the last two Pertemps Finals at Cheltenham. I was delighted with his comeback win at Navan and he’ll improve for that run and the step up to three miles.

“The Storyteller is a great favourite around the yard and has done us proud this season already. I think he’s as good over hurdles as he is over fences and we’re trying him at this level to see what sort of route we might take with him through the second half of the season.”

Mouse Morris is represented by Lismullen runner-up French Dynamite, Gavin Cromwell runs Flooring Porter and Willie Mullins saddles both Bacardys and Bapaume.

Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, he said: “They’re both top-class horses on their day and their ratings entitle them to take part.

“We’re hoping they can pick up some place money, but some funny results can happen at Christmas and if you’re not in, you can’t win.”

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