- Gerri Colombe starts on the Gold Cup trail at the Ladbrokes Champion Chase
- Gordon Elliott has big hopes but admits he is also ‘nervous’ with anticipation
- Meanwhile, Paul Nicholls backs Stay Away Fay to go on to Gold Cup victory
Gordon Elliott has been waiting for this moment for seven months: Gerri Colombe, the apple of his trainer’s eye, returns to action on Saturday in what connections hope will be the first step on the road to winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Gerri Colombe is second-favourite for the National Hunt’s premier event, having made beautiful progress last winter. He won Grade One chases at Limerick, Sandown and, most recently, Aintree in April when he really showed his swaggering talent.
Elliott’s stable are in red-hot form. He had six winners in seven races at Down Royal on Friday — but he would swap them all for Gerri Colombe obliging at the same track on Saturday in the rescheduled Ladbrokes Champion Chase (2.20). It was supposed to be run last weekend but waterlogging forced a reshuffle.
Henry de Bromhead saddles Envoi Allen and Minella Indo, while Elliott also relies on Conflated. It is a small but classy field yet the suspicion is Gerri Colombe will be a cut above. ‘The two of them are in great form and Gerri is going to come on for the run,’ said Elliott.
‘Henry’s horses have both had a run but Gerri is a good horse. I know there is going to be improvement in Gerri. March is the plan and three miles, two furlongs around there is what is going to suit him.
Gordon Elliott admits he is ‘nervous’ as Gerri Colombe prepares to start on the Gold Cup trail
Gerri Colombe (pictured being ridden by Davy Russell) is second-favourite for the National Hunt’s premier event
Elliott’s Gerri Colombe won Grade One chases at Limerick, Sandown, and Aintree
‘He isn’t a quick horse and he doesn’t do anything fancy at home but I’m looking forward to this. I’m nervous but looking forward to it.’
If Elliott is dreaming of next March, Paul Nicholls is already working back from the 2025 Cheltenham Gold Cup after Stay Away Fay made an impressive first appearance over fences at Exeter on Friday. His trainer has big plans in the pipeline.
‘You’d like to think ultimately he’ll end up a Gold Cup horse,’ said Nicholls, ahead of what will be a huge day for him at Wincanton on Saturday. ‘That’s what we like to think and the owners dream of. It’s a long way up that ladder but he’s put his foot on the first step.
‘There’s lots of improvement to come, but it’s a super first start of the season. He’s not done loads and I think there’s loads to come from him.’
Paul Nicholls has big hopes for his horse Stay Away Fay and said: ‘You’d like to think ultimately he’ll end up a Gold Cup horse’