Irish trainer Gordon Elliott continued his recent stellar run of form with several high-profile victories at the Fairyhouse Winter Festival over the weekend.
Elliott repeatedly delivered winning returns for punters last month and continued in the same vein at a meeting that provided numerous form pointers for later in the season.
His standout success was in the Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle as Teahupoo claimed back-to-back victories in the race.
The previously unbeaten Impaire Et Passe was the odds-on favourite to emerge victorious after rattling off four consecutive wins last season.
The Willie Mullins-trained horse looked on course to win the race after moving to the front in the home straight, but was unable to fend off Teahupoo.
Online bookmakers were suitably impressed by the victory, cutting Teahupoo into odds of 4/1 to win the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
The top Irish horse racing betting sites were less enamoured with Impaire Et Passe, pushing the horse out from 11/2 to 8/1 for the 2024 Champion Hurdle.
Elliott confirmed he will aim Teahupoo at the Stayers’ Hurdle again this season, but will plot a different route after finishing third in 2023.
“We knew he was in good nick but obviously Willie’s horse was going to be hard to beat over two and a half miles and we know our lad wants three,” Elliot said.
“Jack (Kennedy) gave him a wonderful ride and was very clever on him, squeezed him along and said he was going to have one go at him between the last two.
“The horse has got a lot stronger. He’s only a young horse and didn’t do much wrong last year. We are going to do things a bit different this year and the plan is to go straight for the Stayers’ Hurdle now. We might have knocked the edge off him in Gowran last year.”
Elliott enjoyed more success in the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle, with his Farren Glory leading home an impressive one-two for the stable.
An Tobar was sent off the 5/2 favourite for Henry de Bromhead, but he had no answer to Farren Glory and King Of Kingsfield in the final stages.
Firefox was another notable winner for the Elliott yard after roaring home in the Kettles Country House Hotel Supporting Fingal Ravens GFC Raceday Maiden Hurdle.
The horse produced a slick round of jumping to leave Ballyburn trailing in his wake and earn quotes of 10/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Ballyburn had been touted as a potential superstar before the race, so the manner of this performance naturally delighted Elliott.
“He’s a good horse and Jack said he’s so straightforward,” Elliott said. “We thought he needed two and a half miles and that’s why we were making every post a winning post.
“Jack said he could go two and a half but he’s got so much boot and is so relaxed that everything is very easy to him. He looks exciting and you’d like his attitude.
“We wanted to get today out of the way first and I just loved the way he jumped. Jack said he was so professional over the last two.”
Elliott ended the Winter Festival with five winners with Jalon D’oudairies claiming a bumper and So Des Flos securing victory in a handicap chase.