Sunday 25 March 2018

Scoundrel heads National weights after withdrawals

Lord Scoundrel heads a huge team for Gordon Elliott (pictured). Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile
Lord Scoundrel heads a huge team for Gordon Elliott (pictured). Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

Ante-post favourite Our Duke is one 74 horses still in contention for the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

Jessica Harrington's seven-year-old is a best-priced 6/1 for the Easter Monday feature, despite having run just three times over fences.

He claimed Grade One glory in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and was last seen filling the runner-up spot behind Disko in the Flogas Novice Chase in February.

The weights are now headed by Lord Scoundrel after Outlander, Carlingford Lough and More Of That were among those withdrawn.

Lord Scoundrel heads a huge team for Gordon Elliott, with Noble Endeavor, Bless The Wings and Tiger Roll other potential runners for the title-chasing trainer.

Elliott's big rival, perennial champion trainer Willie Mullins, could call upon Haymount, Arbre De Vie, Sambremont and Polidam, among others, in a race that could prove pivotal in the title race.

Other leading hopes left in include Pat Kelly's Mall Dini, the Eddie Harty-trained Minella Foru, Ellmarie Holden's Abolitionist and Harry Fry's British challenger Fletchers Flyer.

Mullins is responsible for 10 of the 19 entries in the Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle.

It is three years since the Closutton handler last claimed the Grade Two prize with the admirable Thousand Stars, and this year's potential assault includes Bonbon Au Miel, Clondaw Warrior, Karalee, Open Eagle and Shaneshill.

Elliott, who leads Mullins by over €350,000 in the race to be crowned this season's champion trainer, has a six-strong team headed by the exciting Sutton Place.

The JP McManus-owned six-year-old has won five straight races since finishing third on his debut at Navan in December 2015.

Elliott could also call upon De Plotting Shed, Lieutenant Colonel, Milsean, Taglietelle and Tombstone.

Making up the list are Shark Hanlon's stable stalwart Hidden Cyclone, the Harrington-trained multiple Grade One winner Jezki and Snow Falcon from Noel Meade's stable.

Grade Two honours are also up for grabs in the Avoca Dunboyne Juvenile Hurdle, which has attracted 11 four-year-olds.

Likely contenders include Holden's Ex Patriot, which ran a stormer to finish fourth in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham. John Quinn's Project Bluebook, fourth in the Fred Winter at Prestbury Park, is a possible challenger from Britain.

There are 11 possible runners in the Grade Three Farmhouse Foods John & Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase, including Joseph O'Brien's Slowmotion and the Mullins-trained Westerner Lady.

Irish Independent

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