Thursday 22 March 2018

Empire of Dirt leads Elliott's Navan assault

Gordon Elliott is aiming 11 horses at Troytown
Gordon Elliott is aiming 11 horses at Troytown

Gordon Elliott is looking forward to launching an incredible 11-horse assault on the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase at Navan today. The locally-based trainer has saddled the last two winners of the prestigious handicap in Balbriggan and Riverside City, and was keen to throw as many darts as possible in his bid to complete the hat-trick.

Heading the formidable squad is Empire Of Dirt, who makes his first appearance since winning at the Cheltenham Festival for the now-retired Colm Murphy in March. Noble Endeavor is another major contender for Elliott.

"Obviously it's a very competitive race. Just getting into the handicap is an achievement," said the trainer. "It's a local race, a race we love to win.

"Realistically, you'd have to say ­Empire Of Dirt is a Cheltenham and Leopardstown winner and while he has a lot of weight, he has a touch of class.

"Noble Endeavor has been second in a Grade Two hurdle and chase and has got in on a nice weight of 11st 1lb. He seems to be in good form. He had a good run the last day at Navan over hurdles.

"Bless The Wings might be getting on in years, but has a good chance. ­Mountain King, if he stays, has got a good chance. We've got loads of chances to be honest, but if you're not in, you can't win. We've got a lot of different types of horses, but with a lot of them, if they didn't run here, there's not that much else for them. The Paddy Power is the next race for them."

Noble Endeavor heads the betting and is ridden by Davy Russell. He told his Betway blog: "In a normal year, I'd be pretty confident about going very close in the Troytown with my mount Noble Endeavor.

"However, the decent ground means this year's renewal is as classy a one as I can recall and it looks fiercely ­competitive.

"I schooled Noble Endeavor on ­Friday morning and he felt in good nick. ­Hopefully he can go well with a run under his belt already this season."

Dual Cheltenham Festival winner Cause Of Causes, Realt Mor, Shadow Catcher, Woodford Island, Akorakor, Captain Von Trappe and Killer Crow complete the Elliott team.

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