Cheltenham Festival heroes Blow By Blow and Champagne Classic give Gordon Elliott a strong hand in the Naas Racecourse Business Club Novice Chase on Sunday.
Blow By Blow won the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle at Prestbury Park in March, and made a smart debut over fences at Galway in October.
He has since kept good company at graded level, most recently when third behind Delta Work at Leopardstown last month.
Elliott said: “Blow By Blow ran well in a Grade One over this trip at Christmas, and the form he showed there would entitle him to run well here.”
It is almost two years since Champagne Classic won the same Festival prize, and he has not been seen since following up at Punchestown a month later – when his victims included Penhill, Monalee, Al Boum Photo and Presenting Percy.
Elliott added: “Champagne Classic has been off a long time, and it’s a big ask to start him off at this level. But it’s getting late in the season, and if he does break his novice status we’d like it to be in a decent race.
“He’s been ready to run for a while, but we’ve just had to be patient with him.
“Naas looks a good starting point.”
Chris’s Dream is an interesting contender for Henry de Bromhead, after winning on his fencing bow at Navan.
“He’s in good form, and we’ve been looking forward to moving him up in grade since he won at Navan last month,” said De Bromhead.
“He produced a nice performance there and he should enjoy moving up in trip, because he won a novice hurdle in good style over three miles last season.
“He’s very well in himself, and we are looking forward to Naas on Sunday.”
Paul Nolan runs Drinmore Novice Chase fifth Discorama, while champion trainer Willie Mullins relies on Ballyward.
Leading owner JP McManus is doubly represented, with Shady Operator and Majurca both sent into battle by Joseph O’Brien.
Frank Berry, the owner’s racing manager, said of the former: “He struggled a bit at Punchestown last time and was lucky enough to win on the day.
“He needs to sharpen up his jumping a bit, which hopefully he will.”