Elliott purple patch set to continue
The sensational form of Gordon Elliott's horses has seen the brilliant Co Meath handler make his best start to a season, and he can continue his relentless pace by dominating today's Down Royal spread.
With 54 domestic wins, he is already 11 better off than he was in 2014 heading into the first major jumps fixture of the season.
Elliott is poised to saddle six runners on the curtain-raiser to tomorrow's Grade One spread, and he could conceivably depart with a handful of winners.
In the opening maiden hurdle, he should collect with Cogryhill. A Gigginstown Stud-owned son of Presenting, this exciting five-year-old won its sole point-to-point outing a year ago. He then finished third in a decent Fairyhouse contest on his bumper debut, before going one better in impressive style at Navan in February.
If that level of potential translates now that Cogryhill makes his hurdle bow, he should take some stopping under Bryan Cooper, who is also expected to collect aboard the stable's Dancing Meadows in the mares' race.
This €35,000 novices' hurdle is a decent affair, with Willie Mullins's runaway Clonmel bumper winner Listen Dear one of the main threats.
Dermot McLoughlin's stylish Tipperary scorer Dragon Fei is also a contender, as she was just shy of Pattern level on the Flat.
However, Dancing Meadows has the class and experience to rattle this. The highest rated of those with a mark on 118, Dancing Meadows danced up at Downpatrick, prior to travelling to Cheltenham last week.
Unfortunately, she nearly got brought down there at halfway, yet still got into the race to be denied just half-a-length in fourth.
By right, she should probably be coming here on a hat-trick, so she is trusted to make amends. Keith Donoghue is booked to steer two other Elliott fancies.
In the handicap hurdle, Baroque Style is expected to build on its first outing for Elliott by turning the tables on Pace And Passion, which finished just in front when they were second and third at Punchestown recently.
Donoghue is also pencilled in for Noble Endeavour in the beginners' chase. This often proves to be a cracking event, and Cooper's Tony Martin-trained mount Marinero has the scope to be a really decent chaser.
There wouldn't have been much between him and Noble Endeavour over flights, but the latter did achieve more.
A game individual, Noble Endeavour was chinned on the line at Cheltenham off a mark of 140 in March. He is bred for this job, so he is trusted to make a successful fencing bow.
Elliott's Nina Carberry-ridden Tombstone looks sure to be hard to beat in the bumper, though he has nothing in the featured €50,000 WKD Hurdle.
Mullins, his perennial superior in the trainers' championship, gets the nod to win the lion's share of the spoils in the two-miler courtesy of Whiteout.
Jessica Harrington's Modem and Gigginstown's Henry de Bromhead-trained Identity Thief are serious players here. At the weights, though, it's hard to ignore the chance of Whiteout.
On official figures, she is rated two and four pounds inferior to that respective duo, yet she receives 11lbs and eight pounds from them here, which is significant.
On her latest outing over flights, Whiteout maybe didn't fully see out two-and-a-half miles, just giving best to stablemate Daisy's Gift at Gowran Park. Ruby Walsh's mount reverts to the minimum trip now, so she has lots in her favour.
At Dundalk tonight, the nap vote falls to B Cosmos in the mile maiden. Willie McCreery's three-year-old has been frustrating, making the frame in five of its 10 Flat starts.
At Leopardstown last Sunday, he was simply outclassed when fifth to Chinese Light, but he still finished strongly. That was encouraging, so he can finally get off the mark on his all-weather debut in what is a weak heat.
In the showpiece Listed race, Kevin Prendergast's similarly frustrating Tamadhor might be weighted to collect under Colin Keane.