Gordon Elliott is looking forward to saddling several of his stable stars over the busy Christmas period – but Envoi Allen will not be one of them.
The Cheveley Park Stud-owned six-year-old is arguably the most exciting National Hunt horse in training, having won each of his 10 starts to date, most recently producing a foot-perfect display in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.
Envoi Allen holds upcoming entries at Leopardstown and Limerick, but is instead set to head for Punchestown in mid-January.
“Envoi Allen is one horse who won’t be in action over Christmas,” Elliott told Betfair.
“We’ve made the decision to head to Punchestown on January 17 for a Grade Three novice chase over two and a half miles and it looks a very suitable race for him before we prepare him for the major spring festivals.”
The first Grade One of the Christmas Festival at Leopardstown is the Racing Post Novice Chase on December 26, in which Elliott plans to saddle Felix Desjy.
The Cullentra handler has three contenders for the Grade Two Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle on the same card in impressive Fairyhouse scorer Zanahiyr, Quilixios and Duffle Coat.
The trainer had raised the possibility of instead sending the latter pair for the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow on Sunday, although that will now not be possible in light of the latest travel restrictions put in place between Ireland and Britain.
Elliott said of Zanahiyr: “He could well run in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle. He’s in great shape and came out of his last run very well, so we’re keen to let him take his chance.”
Elliott confirmed his Royal Bond winner Ballyadam will bid to double his top-level tally in Leopardstown’s Future Champions Novice Hurdle on December 27.
The following afternoon he is set to be triple-handed in both the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle and the Savills Chase.
“I’d say we could run Fury Road, Sire Du Berlais and The Storyteller in the Christmas Hurdle. Fury Road does like some ease in the ground, so we will keep an eye on the ground at Leopardstown,” Elliott added.
“The Savills Chase is going to be one of the races of the season and I’d like to think we are fielding three strong candidates in Delta Work, Presenting Percy and Samcro.”
Elliott is favouring the Matchbook Betting Exchange Faugheen Novice Chase at Limerick on December 26 for the exciting Pencilfulloflead, leaving the way clear for his stablemate Conflated to line up for the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown on December 29.
Abacadabras and Petit Mouchoir, a relatively new recruit to the yard, are set to take their chance in the Matheson Hurdle on the final day at Leopardstown.
Elliott said: “The four days after Christmas are always hugely important for us and, while this year will be very different in so many ways, it will be business as usual in terms of runners.
“Over the four days of Leopardstown and Limerick we will be pretty busy and hopefully we can emerge from those festivals with a reasonable haul of winners and I’d like to think we have some strong contenders for some of the big races over the next week.
“Leopardstown at Christmas is both an important and special meeting, but it won’t be same without anybody there this year. It will feel strange as there is always a great buzz around the place which won’t be there unfortunately.
“One thing that will stay the same is the quality of action on the track and we’re running plenty of our big names, so it’s going to be an exciting few days.”