American Mike handed Limerick Christmas aim

By Sports Desk November 20, 2023

American Mike will bid to follow in the footsteps of Gerri Colombe when he heads to Limerick on Boxing Day for the Greenmount Park Novices’ Chase.

Gerri Colombe won the first of his three Grade One novice chases in Limerick’s Christmas showpiece and American Mike appears poised for an immediate step up to the highest level having accounted for Champion Bumper runner-up Fact To File with an impressive chasing display at Navan on Sunday.

Elliott is keen to stay at two-and-a-half miles for the time being with the six-year-old, who lost his way slightly over hurdles last season, but pleased his handler in his first start over the larger obstacles.

“I was delighted,” said Elliott. “In fairness, it was easy to say he was disappointing in his novice hurdles, but I thought he was good at Navan.

“I don’t know if I want to come back to two (miles) and I don’t know if I want to go up to three (miles) either so Limerick would look the race to go for.

“I was hoping (he would always be a better chaser than hurdler), but the way he jumped as a novice hurdler you would be worried.

“We’ve done plenty of schooling and Jack (Kennedy) has done a lot of work with him, schooling him. We haven’t done an awful lot different to be honest. He worked in Tipperary a few weeks ago and worked well and we were very happy.”

American Mike is owned by Noel and Valerie Moran and the same colours of their Beactive Stud will be sported by Found A Fifty when he captains Elliott’s team for Fairyhouse’s Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase on December 3.

The six-year-old impressed his handler with a clear-cut eight-length success over Colonel Mustard at Down Royal and could be joined in the Grade One event by Imagine, who won nicely in a beginners chase at Fairyhouse earlier this month.

“He was exciting and I liked the way he hit the line in Down Royal,” said Elliott of Found A Fifty.

“I wasn’t surprised. I went to the well a little bit too often with him last year and he blew his top, I shouldn’t have gone to Aintree with him. He looks a nice horse.

“I imagine he will go to the Drinmore and I was very impressed with him.”

On Imagine, he added: “He was good (at Fairyhouse) and jumped brilliant and could go for the Drinmore as well I would say. I think stepping up in trip will suit him no bother.

“It wasn’t a bad race and he is tough. It looks like he is a better chaser than hurdler.”

Also backed to take high-rank amongst Elliott’s team of novice chasers this term is Three Card Brag, who was sent off 4-1 second favourite for the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival earlier in the year, but could now find his true calling tackling fences.

“He is going chasing and he will go to Fairyhouse, not this weekend but next weekend,” continued Elliott.

“He jumps very well and I was tempted to run him this weekend. I worked him I think Tuesday or Wednesday and he just had a little blow so I thought I would wait another couple of weeks.

“He’s a fair horse and he’s not a flashy horse at home, but he’s a good horse. He always looked like he would be a chaser.”

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