|Thursday 16th November 2023
Gerri Colombe Strengthens Gold Cup Claims
Talented Irish chaser Gerri Colombe enhanced his reputation further with victory in the Grade One Champion Chase at Down Royal on his opening start of the 2023/24 campaign. That success in the 3m contest brought his record over fences to five wins from six starts.
Gerri Colombe GETS UP in a Down Royal classic! pic.twitter.com/dDpHD1yYFJ— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) November 11, 2023
Gordon Elliott’s runner was the leading staying chaser in Ireland last season. His sole defeat came in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase where he went down by a short head behind The Real Whacker. He had wins at the highest level in the Faugheen Novices’ Chase, Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase, and Mildmay Novices’ Chase. This latest win suggests he is set for more major success in the second half of the campaign.
The seven-year-old got better as the race progressed at Down Royal, getting on top late on to score by a neck ahead of Envoi Allen, an eight-time Grade One winner.
Down Royal Winner Expected to Be Biggest Challenger to Defending Champion
Punters who are looking to place a horse bet on Gerri Colombe for the 2024 Cheltenham Gold Cup can now get odds of 5/1 on the chaser. He is likely to attract more support for the Blue Riband event of the Cheltenham Festival following his triumph at Down Royal.
The nine-year-old is on course to face Galopin Des Champs in the Gold Cup in March. His fellow Irish raider won the Cheltenham Festival feature by nine lengths in 2023. A clash between the chasers could determine who is the leading horse in the division.
Galopin Des Champs was beaten on his final start of the 2022/23 campaign at the Punchestown Festival, however, he ended the season with an official rating of 179, the highest of any chaser in the 3m division.
Elliott Considering Next Move for Gold Cup Hopeful
Gerri Colombe has entries in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown, so Elliott must now consider which of those two races he commits to with his exciting horse.
Protektorat is magnificent in the G1 @Betfair Chase— Racing TV (@RacingTV) November 19, 2022
He stamps his class @haydockraces with a stunning win for @DSkeltonRacing & @harryskelton89. Defending champion A Plus Tard pulled-up pic.twitter.com/dHIOmuD4yn
The Group One contest at Haydock could see him take on some of the best 3m chasers in the UK, including defending champion Protektorat, Shishkin, L’Homme Presse and Bravemansgame. That would be a strong test for the Irish raider in just his second season over fences.
If Elliott decides to keep his horse in Ireland, he will step down in distance to 2m4f for his assignment at Punchestown. The Irish trainer last won that race in 2014 with Don Cossack. His chaser later went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
King George Likely to Be on The Cards During Festival Period
The King George VI Chase is the second biggest race of the season in the 3m division in the UK and Ireland and Gerri Colombe is likely to feature at Kempton on Boxing Day, as he bids to win the biggest prize of his career so far.
Elliott has yet to win the King George, but he has not had many attempts at winning the festive feature. Should he travel across to Kempton with Gerri Colombe, he would have a great chance of adding his name to the roll of honour.
Ireland have produced some excellent staying chasers in recent years and Gerri Colombe has the potential to establish himself as one of the best of those over the next couple of seasons.