Elliott expects stable to start firing on all cylinders
Many factors have combined to ensure Gordon Elliott hasn't been able to replicate last year's lightning start to the Irish jumps season but he insists there's "a long time between now and Cheltenham".
Elliott trails 12-time champion Willie Mullins by €650,000 in their Irish trainers championship duel before the season kicks into full gear but the Meath handler isn't pushing the panic button and will bide his time.
Well-publicised issues with the health of his horses in the season's opening weeks, and the unusually dry summer effecting his string working on grass, have left him a little behind compared to previous years.
Samcro and Shattered Love were both turned over at Down Royal last weekend on their seasonal debuts but the Cullentra trainer expects everything to be firing on all cylinders by Navan's Troytown Chase meeting at the end of this month.
"They've plenty done at home but they're all coming on for their runs, we haven't been on grass this year but everyone is in the same boat. Thankfully the rain is coming now and it's a long time between now and Cheltenham so we won't panic," Elliott said.
"Samcro and Shattered Love came out of their races very well, they are in good nick and they'll fight for another day. Samcro is in the Morgiana Hurdle (on Sunday week) and he'll stick with two miles for the moment.
"Come Troytown week they should be all fit and there'll be no excuses, it's a meeting I like to target."
Shattered Love produced an impressive display to take the JLT Novices' Chase at this year's Cheltenham Festival and Elliott plans to return to the Cotswolds and will be "training her as a Gold Cup horse".
Apple's Jade is another horse of note in the Elliott yard and having been turned over when "in season" at the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals, her trainer hopes he has solved that problem.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned mare is likely to take on the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan on Sunday before bidding to secure her third Hatton's Grace Hurdle victory in succession at Fairyhouse on December 2.
"She's in good form. We'd an awful problem with her last season, she kept coming in season the days she went racing last year at the end of the season, she did it in both Cheltenham and Punchestown," he said.
"We're after doing something with her to try and sort that out so hopefully that's all behind her. She didn't run her race in Cheltenham or Punchestown but at the same time she only needs to improve two or three lengths to be winning those races. If we can rectify those problems, then we'll be OK."