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National Hunt horses to follow - Four Gordon Elliott horses who could go right to the top this season

Our expert takes a look through Gordon Elliott’s ranks and highlights four horses who could reach the very top of their divisions during the new National Hunt season.


Gordon Elliott had to suck up another near miss in the fight to be Ireland’s top jumps trainer last season, as Willie Mullins got his act together during the second half of the season and successfully defended his crown. It was at Cheltenham, however, where Elliott again secured the bragging rights over his compatriot, with victories for the likes of Samcro, Shattered Love and Tiger Roll ensured Elliott ended the Festival as the winning-most trainer for the second season in a row.

Elliott has been busy plundering early-season jumps prize-pots across Britain and Ireland during the summer, with many of his stable stars set to return to action in the coming weeks. We’ve taken a look through the horses based at his County Meath stables and picked out four of his finest for punters to follow this season.

Andy Dufresne


A new recruit to Gordon Elliott’s squad, having been purchased for £330,000 at the Cheltenham sales back in March. Andy Dufresne made a lasting impression on his only outing on the point-to-point circuit, comfortably seeing off Faustinovick – an exciting addition to Colin Tizzard’s ranks – by six lengths.

Seasonal plans will depend on how well this four-year-old son of Doyen settles in during the summer. If everything has gone to plan, then I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Andy Dufresne went down a path which would take him towards races like the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle or the Albert Bartlett, as this horse looks to have a very bright future under rules.

Champagne Classic (centre) beating a high quality field in the 2017 The Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle.

Champagne Classic


Somewhat of a forgotten horse for Gordon Elliott, having been forced to miss the entirety of last season through injury. Michael O’Leary claimed this was “the worst horse” baring his Giggingstown colours after his victory in the 2017 Martin Pipe at Cheltenham, but O’Leary was forced to backpedal on those comments the following month at Punchestown, as Champagne Classic claimed another shock victory, this time in the Grade One Irish Daily Mirror Novices’ Hurdle.

The form of that three mile hurdle was boosted significantly last season. Runner-up Penhill scored in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, while Monalee, Al Boum Photo and Presenting Percy all went on to claim Group One prizes during their novice chasing campaigns. Novice chasing is likely to be the route for this son of Stowaway when he makes his return and Champagne Classic could be a lively contender in either the JLT or RSA Novices’ Chases.

Jack Kennedy riding Dortmund Park clear at the last to win the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.

Cracking Smart & Dortmund Park


I was struggling to decide which of these novice chasers I would preview in this piece, seeing as both could be campaigned in similar ways during the season. However, I was so taken with the two during 2017/18, both warrant plenty of attention during the upcoming season.

Following a simple victory in a Listed contest at Cork, Cracking Smart was forced to settle for second twice behind Next Destination in two high-quality races. Gordon Elliott then identified this six-year-old as his best bet heading into Cheltenham, only for injury to strike late in his preparation and rule him out of the Albert Bartlett.

Dortmund Park made it to the Festival, but Davy Russell’s hold-up tactics didn’t work out as his mount could only finish eighth in the Albert Bartlett. Elliott’s charge made up for that poor performance at Punchestown, where he took advantage of some calamitous errors from the market leaders to carry odds of 14/1 to victory in the Grade One Champion Novice Hurdle.

Both are big, powerful sons of Great Pretender and should take extremely well to chasing. While Elliott could have the JLT Novices’ Chase in mind for Dortmund Park – who showed plenty of pace over two-and-a-half miles last season – the way Cracking Smart responded to pressure and closed on Next Destination over three miles at Navan makes me think the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup at Cheltenham could be right up his street.

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National Hunt horses to follow - Four Gordon Elliott horses who could go right to the top this season

Our expert takes a look through Gordon Elliott’s ranks and highlights four horses who could reach the very top of their divisions during the new National Hunt season.

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