Elliott impressed after 'Mengli' makes successful chasing bow
Gordon Elliott feels there is great scope for improvement despite Mengli Khan soaring towards the head of the Arkle betting for next year's Cheltenham Festival following an impressive chasing debut at Punchestown yesterday.
A Grade One winner over hurdles and third in last year's Supreme at the Festival, Mengli Khan halved in price (7/1 from 14/1) after the five-year-old took to the larger obstacles like a duck to water.
Davy Russell sent the 8/11 favourite to the front in the back straight and the son of Lope De Vega's foot-perfect jumping saw him extend away from Jessica Harrington's Forge Meadow (9/4) to leave many wondering what he might achieve over fences.
"When he had something to aim at, he winged the fences. Davy thought they weren't going quick enough down the back so he let him stride on and he jumped the fourth and third last very well," Elliott said.
"He got him in to pop the last two, which he'll have learned a bit from. It was no harm getting him to do that. I was happy with that and I thought it was a good performance."
The Gigginstown runner - now third favourite for the Arkle behind Kayley Woollacott's Lalor (4/1) and Amy Murphy's Kalashnikov (5/1) - is unlikely to be seen again until Leopardstown's Christmas Festival.
"It's hard to believe because he ran on the Flat as a two-year-old, but he's a big-boned horse and he looks like a chaser. He took to that well and the scope he showed down the back is what impressed me most," he added.
It was another dominant day for Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown with Mengli Khan spearheading a 38/1 four-timer as Noel Meade's Daly Tiger (6/4 favourite), Henry de Bromhead's Judgement Day (7/2) and Elliott's Battleoverdoyen (evens favourite) also obliging.
Battleoverdoyen was an expensive €265,450 purchase at the Cheltenham Horses In Training Sale five days after his debut point-to-point win for Jerry Cosgrave in April 2017 but had failed to see any action until yesterday's bumper win at the Kildare track.
Daly Tiger, Mengli Khan and Judgement Day cost a total of €450,000 at public auctions in England which makes the cost of yesterday's four-timer quartet a whopping €715,500.
Danny Mullins was the jockey to follow, however, as he recorded an 89/1 double, kicked off by Billy Lanigan's Stucker Hill (14/1) in the mares' handicap hurdle before Gunfire Reef (5/1) did the business for his mother Mags Mullins.