Monday 19 February 2018

Elliott and Walsh to form rare and deadly alliance

Trainer Gordon Elliott. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE
Trainer Gordon Elliott. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE

Johnny Ward

Ruby Walsh often goes to the track with a raft of fancied rides and that is the case today but it is in unusual circumstances.

Willie Mullins, who has only been sporadically represented in recent weeks, normally provides the legendary Walsh with all these enviable mounts but this time it's Gordon Elliott. Mullins' main rival is using the best riders available until Jack Kennedy and Bryan Cooper return to action from injury.

Walsh trails Kennedy by one in the jockeys' race. "To be honest, it was never realistic I'd win the title this year," Kennedy said on Tuesday. "But one day it's something I aspire towards."

Little wonder but his spell atop the riders' standings will likely end today. Ruby can level matters in the first race, in which Theatre Wine is difficult to oppose. Incredibly backed at 1/100 in running at Roscommon, despite seemingly having never led in the race, she can go one better.

Ruby again rides for Gigginstown in the second maiden hurdle and Criminate might be good enough, with Mick Jazz odds-on favourite in the betting last evening. The Elliott-Walsh axis may strike in the two-mile handicap hurdle with Orchard Road but preference is for Kiera Royale, which has been consistent and remains competitively weighed.

The class act on the card makes her fences debut. Missy Tata, which can avail of a chunky weight receipt on account of her being a four-year-old, has won her last three, including in bloodless fashion on her seasonal return. The Elliott-trained French import is an exciting ride for Walsh in the penultimate contest and cannot be opposed.

Another pretty strong fancy is Lip Service in the finale. The Tramore winner's trainer, Tony Martin, will have been pleased with how Heartbreak City has settled into life in Australia ahead of his Melbourne Cup bid.

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