Saturday 15 December 2018

'Colonel' to call the shots for Elliott

Trainer Gordon Elliott Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Gordon Elliott Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Punters should get used to close-fought battles between Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins as their duel for the Irish trainers' championship heats up and the pair look to have the winner between them in today's Cork feature.

While the €20,000 on offer in the UCC Horse Racing Society Hurdle (2.35) is unlikely to decide another intriguing title clash - which Elliott currently leads by €450,000 - every little helps and the Meath trainer holds leading claims with Lieutenant Colonel.

Rated as high as 156 over hurdles after winning in Grade One company twice at the tail end of 2014, the Gigginstown House Stud nine-year-old has fallen to 138 and this is an ideal opportunity to score for the first time in nearly 18 months under Davy Russell.

Lieutenant Colonel was a head in front of Mullins' Karalee last time out when chasing home Jezki at Leopardstown but Elliott's charge is a consistent sort and should avail of this opportunity to secure his seventh career victory on a tricky seven-race card.

There may be another tight struggle between the leading trainers as Last Minute Man makes his long-awaited hurdle debut for Elliott in the UCC Goes Racing Maiden Hurdle (3.40) in just his second career start.

Not seen on the racecourse since an impressive defeat of the smart Trainwreck over a year ago at Down Royal, Russell's mount may lack race fitness and play second fiddle to Antey, which can get off the mark over obstacles at the fourth attempt for Mullins and Paul Townend.

Elsewhere, Charles Byrnes' Late Again is an interesting newcomer in the concluding Mares' Bumper and a market watch is advised with the Limerick trainer having scored in fine style in similar events in recent weeks.

Meanwhile at Wolverhampton, former Irish champion apprentice Ben Curtis takes two interesting mounts on Irish raiders with Longford trainer Paul Flynn making a rare trip across the Irish Sea.

If Templemary Boy rediscovers the form of his second at Dundalk in October, it would bring him right into the mix in the Class 6 Handicap (4.25) while stablemate Rabbie The Bard is an interesting contender in a similar event (4.55) as the five-year-old returns from over a year off the track.

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