Thursday 23 January 2020

Andy Dufresne can gain redemption for red-hot Elliott

As the lead character in one of most acclaimed films of all time, Andy Dufresne sought vindication throughout ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and eventually escaped to freedom in a beautiful Hollywood finale. Stock photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
As the lead character in one of most acclaimed films of all time, Andy Dufresne sought vindication throughout ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and eventually escaped to freedom in a beautiful Hollywood finale. Stock photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Ab the lead character in one of most acclaimed films of all time, Andy Dufresne sought vindication throughout 'The Shawshank Redemption' and eventually escaped to freedom in a beautiful Hollywood finale.

His equine equivalent is not trying to clear himself of similar wrongdoing but plenty of eyebrows were raised when Gordon Elliott's charge was turned over as a heavy favourite in a Grade Two at Navan last month.

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Paul Nolan's Latest Exhibition ended his unbeaten streak, but that was no disgrace and redemption awaits under Mark Walsh in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle (2.40) at Punchestown tomorrow.

Having already proven himself at Grade Two level, Andy Dufresne should be a class apart with the step back to two miles set to suit his speed and the most likely to trouble him in the betting is expected to be Henry de Bromhead's Captain Guinness.

A winner on his debut start last month when picking up the pieces at Navan, there should be more to come under Rachael Blackmore but this class is a step into the unknown.

Joseph O'Brien is doubly represented with Anything Will Do bidding for a four-timer having already scored four times over hurdles since September, although this is his first step into graded company like this.

The Kilkenny trainer also saddles the beautifully-bred Meticulous - his parents are no less than multiple Group One winner Fame And Glory and Grade One-winning mare Refinement - in the famous silks of powerful Flat owner Michael Tabor.

His second to the unbeaten Envoi Allen in a Grade Two bumper last season makes appeal but the best is unlikely to be seen of him until he gains more experience over hurdles.

Things were too bad to be true from City Island on his chasing debut over Christmas and the earlier Grade Three Killiney Novice Chase (1.05) is another chance to show what he can do over larger obstacles.

Last year's Ballymore winner clearly showed no ill effects for an error-ridden effort, and Martin Brassil pitches up his stable star just 16 days later with Willie Mullins' Fairyhouse winner Carefully Selected likely to be a warm-order favourite.

Better is expected from City Island but the fly in the ointment may be Elliott's Dallas Des Pictons. With the Meath trainer in stunning form, the Gigginstown gelding is taken to bounce back to form after a below-par effort at Cork two months ago.

The Cullentra handler may also take the Amateur National (2.10) and the booking of Patrick Mullins points the finger straight at Cheb De Kerviniou, which has a big swing at the weights with Gavin Cromwell's Biddy The Boss having been just touched off by that rival on New Year's Day.

Fairyhouse is the place to be today as Elliott looks for a fourth successive victory in the €100,000 Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase (2.10) where Doctor Phoenix (e/w) - which showed signs of life on his last run - can make the frame at a decent price having fallen down the weights.

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