Jordan Gainsford hoping team-up with Gerri Colombe will pay off in Limerick

Jockey will ride Gordon Elliott-trained horse in Grade One €100k Guinness Faugheen Chase on St Stephen’s Day

Gordon Elliott’s strength in depth in the novice chase division can pay off for jockey Jordan Gainford in Limerick’s €100,000 St Stephen’s Day Grade One highlight.

Gainford teams up with the unbeaten Gerri Colombe in the Guinness Faugheen Chase, just 20 minutes after Elliott’s two big Grade One hopes at Leopardstown are put to the test.

There is obvious potential for a quick top-class double for the Elliott team, although victory for Gerri Colombe would be extra significant for Gainford.

The 21-year-old is still looking for a maiden Grade One victory on this side of the pond having landed October’s American Grand National on Hewick, a race that carried top-flight status.


A year ago, Gainford came within a nod of landing Limerick’s Christmas feature on Farouk D’alene only to be short-headed on the line by Master McShee.

With up to 15mm of rain forecast to fall before racing on Limerick’s already soft ground, conditions look set to be testing, which will be a plus for Gerri Colombe. Unbeaten in his five starts to date, the French-bred horse appears to thrive in the mud and was all but faultless on his chase debut at Fairyhouse last month.

Willie Mullins puts a trio up against him and they are topped by Kilcruit, the one-time top bumper performer who took three tries to break his duck over hurdles last season.

In contrast he wasted no time getting off the mark over fences at Punchestown and Seán O’Keeffe takes the mount in a contest that could effectively turn into a match.

Testing conditions will also suit last season’s Thyestes winner Longhouse Poet in Limerick’s rated hurdle on Monday.

Pulled up over flights on his last start, Longhouse Poet has obvious claims on official figures, although he may be vulnerable to Pinkerton if the latter’s stamina lasts out on his first try at the trip.

Henry de Bromhead has reshuffled his jockey arrangements on St Stephen’s Day as Rachael Blackmore is in Kempton to team up with Envoi Allen in the King George VI Chase.

Blackmore endured a far from happy experience in last year’s King George and eventually had to pull up Minella Indo.

Last year’s shock winner Tornado Flyer was the first Irish horse in over a decade and a half to emerge on top in the cross-channel Christmas highlight, and hopes are pinned on Envoi Allen this time.

Breathing difficulties have got in the way of a horse that at one point looked to have the racing world at his feet. He was switched to the minimum trip last season, and De Bromhead’s call to put him back to three miles paid off in spades at Down Royal last time out.

A repeat of that effort over Kemboy may not be good enough against rising stars Bravemansgame and L’Homme Presse but De Bromhead is happy the race tempo will suit.

“Minella Indo is a real dour stayer that loves Cheltenham. This didn’t seem to suit him last year, whereas this guy jumps and has a real high cruising speed, so he seems a different type of horse.

“We will find out on the day and I might be wrong, but we feel he is the horse that should suit the race,” he said.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column