Thursday 22 February 2018

Elliott expects Death Duty to improve for chase debut

Davy Russell steered Death Duty to victory
Davy Russell steered Death Duty to victory

Johnny Ward

Tipperary punters were treated to some excellent mixed action on Sunday but the jumpers take over today and no doubt about what is the star attraction as Death Duty embarks on a chasing career.

The six-year-old generally lived up to trainer Gordon Elliott's high regard last season, though his campaign ended a shade tamely, as he was hot favourite for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle but was beaten when getting rid of Bryan Cooper at the last, and he was then only third at the Punchestown Festival.

However, he will be expected to do the needful under Davy Russell, who has never ridden him before, in the maiden chase today.

That said, his trainer sounds a little word of caution, stressing: "He's in good form but will come on for the run."

Even so, he ought to have too much swagger for an inferior hurdling type in Cap D'Aubois, one which also bombed on his last start. The rest make up the numbers.

The novice chase is an interesting little four-runner affair. Miss Eyecatcher has the best form over fences, but giving 4lb to Marchese Marconi may be difficult. That said, the selection would probably prefer it a bit faster underfoot.

The Elliott-Russell alliance could kick off the day favourably, Osco Mosco looking the one here, with the eye taken by riding arrangements for Creation. Note that Henry de Bromhead and Bryan Cooper are set to form an axis quite regularly this term.

Russell and Elliott team up again and can snare the other maiden hurdle with Gigginstown's Roaring Bull, a Milan four-year-old which won his only start in a bumper.

It was a strangely quiet summer for Val O'Brien - no winner since April - but perhaps he can take the staying handicap hurdle with Oh'herewego, with Crocodile Dundee taken to improve on a nice recent run for the Tom Cooper barn in the handicap chase.

Elliott may finish off the afternoon with a four-timer, Secret Legacy a tentative preference to Michael O'Leary's Caliption.

Punters have no shortage of action, with Dundalk's card (sponsored by Bar One Racing) going to post 40 minutes before the Angelus, by which time Aidan O'Brien will likely have struck with at least one winner, Pipes Of Peace put forward.

In the opening contest, he introduces a Galileo-bred in El Greco but another - Platinum Warrior - may score for Michael Halford and thus narrow the gap between his rider Pat Smullen and leader Colin Keane back to three.

Clare Cannon struck at Laytown four weeks ago with the well-backed Coreczka and he has no issue with Dundalk, while McGuigan could provide rookie Dave Hannigan with his first winner, the Jim Bolger-trained horse feasibly treated.

Today's nap is Clear Skies in the fillies' maiden, the half-sister to Motivator fancied to belatedly get off the mark for Ballydoyle. World Stage might prove another for the barn, though it is hard to be over-confident about his chance.

Kevin Manning can guide Anthony McCann's Konig Hall home, while his buddy at Bolger's, Ronan Whelan, can take the last on Gavin Cromwell's Siempre Amigos.

Irish Independent

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