Ruby set for 'Poli' as Joseph O'Brien gets big boost
Ruby Walsh is set to ride Don Poli for just the second time in Saturday's JNWine.com Chase at Down Royal after Willie Mullins took his runners out.
With Bryan Cooper unavailable and Gordon Elliott committing to "use the best available", Walsh is set to team up with the popular stayer - a best-priced 3/1 - for the first time over fences.
Mullins, who has had few runners in recent weeks, had no stand-out contender in Saturday's €140,000 contest, though he had the option of Alelchi Inois and Ballycasey before they were taken out at yesterday's five-day stage.
"Don Poli works in the morning and we'll use the best available," Elliott said yesterday. "I imagine Gigginstown will probably run a few in the race, including Valseur Lido."
Walsh has teamed up with Elliott for three winners over the past week. He rode Don Poli into second as a novice hurdler at the Punchestown festival in a Grade One staying event.
Cooper will not, as planned, ride at Down Royal and will be out for approximately two weeks more.
Gigginstown's retained rider was hopeful last week after meeting his doctor that he would be back for Saturday's feature but a return visit yesterday confirmed that he must be patient for a little longer.
Elliott looks set to have an extremely strong team for the meet, beginning on Friday with Apple's Jade. The highest-profile recruit that the yard got arising from the Gigginstown fallout, she is as short as 6/1 for the Champion Hurdle.
Elliott said: "The plan is she'll run in Friday's WKD Hurdle, though I'm keeping an eye on the ground for a good few of my runners. Also part of my Friday team at the moment I'm thinking of Monbeg Notorious, A Toi Phil and others."
The Grade Two Titanic Belfast Chase on Saturday could be a high-class race, with 13 possible runners. "We could have a few in this: the Galway Plate winner Lord Scoundrel, Roi Des Francs and Outlander," Elliott said. Gigginstown may also run Alpha Des Obeaux.
Meanwhile, Joseph O'Brien is to get a staggering team of high-class three-year-olds from his father Aidan's barn in a major boost for the young trainer and rider Barry Geraghty.
Geraghty is retained rider for JP McManus, who has acquired the steeds from Coolmore.
They include Housesofparliament, last seen running a blinder in third in the Leger at Doncaster. He is one of the best Flat horses to go jumping for some time.
The Major General, 109-rated and touched off in the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, is also to be gelded and go to Piltown, in addition to Group Two Curragh Cup winner Sword Fighter.
Other runners with three-figure Flat ratings to make the move from his father to the 23-year-old are Tree Of Knowledge, Landofhopeandglory and Triplicate.
The rest are Big Ben, Cook Islands, Unicorn, Immortal Bridge and Bhutan.
Plans have yet to be revealed for these horses but O'Brien looks to have a huge chance of a second successive Triumph Hurdle win. Last year's victor in the Triumph, Ivanovich Gorbatov, is a possible rival for Apple's Jade on Friday.
At Exeter yesterday, Tom George's Sir Valentino produced a career-high showing when beating Garde La Victoire in the Haldon Gold Cup, a major win for Cork rider Adrian Heskin.
Freddy Tylicki was reported to be in a stable condition last night after the horrifying four-horse pile-up at Kempton on Monday. He was airlifted to the St George's spinal unit after getting the worst of a melee which also resulted in Jim Crowley being hospitalised.
Tylicki is in the intensive care unit at the hospital in Tooting, South London. Crowley was fortunate to emerge with a broken nose but no serious injury.